Summer officially starts on June 21st. For some young children that means longer sunny walks in the stroller, more time to practice riding a two-wheeler, or even finally being able to roll on the grass and find what new bugs and insects are waiting to be discovered. As parents, the warmer months bring many opportunities for more fun outdoors but that fun comes hand in hand with additional safety precautions. Below are a few summer safety for you and your children.
- Prepare 2-3 make-and-take first aid kits to have handy wherever your summer activities take you. Stash one to leave in the car, one in the baby bag, and also one to have just as an extra. Your first aid kit needs a few necessities like band aids, pair of rubber gloves, spray or ointment for minor cuts, emergency contact information, sanitizer, etc. You know your children best so customize your first aid kits to fit your family’s needs. Store everything in a gallon Ziploc bags for easy transfer and travel. With three first aid kits readily available you’ll always be prepared for any bumps, bruises, and owies.
- Sun Safety. Because 1 in 5 Americans will experience skin cancer in their lifetime, it is very important to use sunscreen. When using sunscreen make sure to select broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30. It’s important to apply it to all exposed areas at least 15 to 30 minutes before going outside and every two hours thereafter. In addition try to avoid being outside during the hottest times of the day, which is between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. When you are outside, make sure to offer shade or choose play areas that have tents, covered areas, or plenty of trees. Dress your children in lightweight, breathable clothing that covers their bodies as much as possible. This offers additional protection against the sun’s rays. Hats with wide brims and sunglasses help to protect children’s eyes from the glare of the sun and dangerous UV rays.
- Choose playgrounds wisely. First and foremost, trust your instinct as a parent when you approach a playground. Be cautious of the neighborhood and do your research ahead of time to find out what’s available there and whether or not it may be in a not-so-safe area or if equipment is outdated. The playground should have safety-tested mats or loose-fill materials (sand, bark dust, shredded rubber). Scope out all of the play structures, checking for any parts that may be unsafe or worn out. Is it accessible for parents to quickly run up and retrieve a child? Can you see your child in every part of the structure and overall play area? Are there dark areas where children can hide, i.e., fully enclosed swirly slide? Another tip is to also supervise how close the park is to an open, busy road or whether or not it has bathrooms onsite. Finally, as mentioned above, check if the the park has areas for shade from the sun.
- Helmets! Helmets! Helmets! Similar to how Tip #3 is to always wear sunscreen in the sun; children should always wear a helmet when they are riding a bike and/or any wheeled apparatus (e.g., skates, skateboard, etc.). It’s just good practice. Even if a child is a skilled rider, it’s vital that wearing a helmet is a non-negotiable topic. This good habit starts with parents so be sure your child sees you wear a helmet every time you ride. It’s important to purchase a helmet that has met the CPSC (Consumer Product & Safety Commission) safety standard so look for that sticker when fitting your child for a helmet. Remember, it should fit your child’s head so that it’s level and not tilting forward or backwards. The helmet should be snug but not too tight when fastened. Be sure to leave at least room for two fingers between your child’s chin and strap.
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For Additional Resources:
“Sun Safety,” by Sue Mankiw, Teaching Young Children 4 (5): 22–25.www.naeyc.org/tyc/files/tyc/file/V4N5/Sun_safety.pdf
“Summer Safety Tips,” by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 2012.www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Summer-Safety-Tips-Staying-Safe-Outdoors.aspx
“Summer Safety Tips”, Teaching Young Children 6 (5): http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/summer_safety_tips