How To Keep Kids Safe This Summer | Best Tips for the Summer
Jul 11, 2016
The summer season is right around the corner: time for vacations and fun! While the kids are on a break from school, they’ll have lots of great opportunities for outdoor adventures, including camping, hiking, and fun at the beach or pool. But if your kids are going to have some fun in the great outdoors this season, go over some important safety rules before everyone ventures off. Here are some tips from the Super Spinner team on how to keep kids safe this summer season.
Remember Insect Repellent
Parents need to remember to spray their children with insect repellent. During the warmer months of the year, ticks and other harmful insects are everywhere. Deer ticks, especially smaller ticks, can transmit Lyme disease. In a worst case scenario, Lyme disease can affect the heart, brain, and joints unless properly identified and treated—suffice to say, it’s better to prevent it altogether.
While ticks are invasive and dangerous for families living or traveling to heavily wooded areas, it’s also important to remember that mosquito bites are much more common during the summer season. Not only are these bites itchy and uncomfortable, but they may cause some very serious diseases. According to the CDC, the warmer weather increases the risk for diseases from chikunguya, dengue, and most recently, the zika virus. If you are planning to travel abroad this summer, be sure to know the risks of insect borne diseases since they may be greater in tropical climates where insect populations tend to be higher.
When choosing an insect repellant, it is safest to use an EPA-approved repellant that contains DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). Armed with a trustworthy repellant, you and your family can be that much safer from creepy-crawlies of all sorts.
Outfit Kids With Protective Gear
Sports and recreation are a vital part of kids’ healthy lifestyles. However, according to the CDC, over 2.6 million kids ages 0-19 are treated in emergency rooms from sports and recreation related injuries. Fortunately, most of those injuries are relatively minimal and treatable, since many kids today wear protective gear to keep safe when they’re involved in high-impact activities like biking, skateboarding, or playing soccer or football.
With that said, if you’re still wondering about how to keep kids safe when they’re exercising, start by making sure their safety equipment fits properly. That includes helmets, elbow pads, wrist guards and knee pads. If equipment doesn't fit properly, it may move around too much to offer the protection kids need, or they might be tempted to simply take it off.
Hiking and Camping
When camping or hiking in heavily wooded, unpopulated areas, there are a few time-tested rules that everyone should remember in order to stay safe.
Always Take A Buddy
When hiking around, it is always a good idea to practice the buddy system. Tell kids to take someone else with them if they are going to the bathroom, taking a run up the trail to explore or for any other reason. Two heads, as the saying goes, are better than one.
Carry A Whistle
When venturing into unknown areas, it is a good idea for everyone, not just the kids, to have whistle on their pack. Whistles can be purchased very inexpensively at sporting goods stores. Most look like like keychains and can be attached directly to a backpack. Remember, a whistle’s sound can travel up to a mile, three times farther than the human voice.
Before beginning an adventure, establish some ground rules for using your whistles. Let kids know that having an emergency whistle is for just that, emergencies. (They’ll probably enjoy the responsibility of having an emergency tool!) Set up a code for blowing the whistle in case someone gets lost. For example, three long sounds with a pause in between, then wait for a response. Repeat every minute until help arrives. It is important for kids to know that in case they become lost, they must stay in the same spot while they signal for help, not wander.
Have A Small First Aid Kit
A first aid kit should be the first thing to pack when considering how to keep kids safe in the wilderness. It should include band aids, antiseptic, water, extra layers of clothing, and of course, snacks! One simple and scrumptious snack for a backcountry trip is GORP: Good Ole’ Raisins and Peanuts. GORP is not only is it simple to put together, but also packed with proteins for energy. Plus, you can customize it by adding some of your family’s favorite bite-sized treats.
Know When to STOP
Make sure that your kids know this important acronym in case they ever get lost:
Stop: Stay where you are, do not wander.
Think: Try and remember the emergency plan that you agreed on, and remember that you have a whistle to use to signal for help.
Observe: Just take a moment to look around, see something familiar, and keep calm.
Plan: Remind your children that there is plan in place specifically for this situation. This is why they have their whistle, why they should stay put in one spot, and why they have snacks,water, and extra layers in their packs.
It’s especially important to drink plenty of water during the warmer months. In heat, we tend to sweat more, and thus require more water than usual to replace what our bodies have lost. Water helps our bodies regulate core temperature, keeps our brains active and alert, and protects our joints, spinal cords, and other body tissues. It also helps the body dispose of waste. Remember to carry water when traveling outdoors or participating in outdoor play.
Since water borne diseases can be found in natural waters from rivers and lakes, make sure your water is clean before drinking it. Different options exist for purifying water, such as UV lights, filtration systems, and iodine tablets. If your family is not planning a long trip, carry only as much water as you will need, but make sure that each person has their own supply.
Safety Around Water
Speaking of water, swimming is a great way for kids to have fun, stay fit, and cool off from the summer heat. As always, safety needs to be a priority. Enrolling children in swimming lessons, as young as the age of one can decrease swimming injuries by as much as 88 percent (as supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics). Additionally, life jackets, floatation equipment, and proper supervision can greatly reduce swimming risks and increase fun!
When kids are in the water, there should always be a lifeguard watching (or at least a responsible adult, if that water is a home swimming pool). Children who are small and have less experience in the water should have an adult either holding on or swimming just beside them. Even water as shallow as one foot can pose a substantial risk to kids if they lack the right help. Inflatable arm floats or “swimmies” can help a smaller child gain confidence in the water, but they are not lifesaving devices and are never meant to take the place of proper supervision and skills.
It’s always exciting when the public pool finally opens again for the season, and knowing how to keep kids safe at the pool will help everyone have a great time. Remind kids never to run when near the pool, as tripping or slipping can pose a serious hazard. They should make sure to observe “no diving” signs, listen to the lifeguard’s instructions, and follow the rules for proper pool use. If the pool is above ground, children should never stand on the sides, which may cause the pool to break or collapse and lead to injury.
A riptide or an undertow occurs where the water flows back to the sea from the beach. They usually are very strong and can pull a person back out to sea with them. If it looks like there is an area on the beach where the water is not breaking, there may be a riptide underneath. Riptides generally form beachside jetties, so it is best to avoid swimming in those areas. Teach kids that if they believe that they are stuck in a riptide, swim parallel to the shore, not towards it.
One of the best parts of summer is soaking up the sun. While most everyone loves bright and sunny days, those rays do pose health risks of their own, from painful burns to the potential risk of skin cancer, if beachgoers fail to take the right precautions. Always use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. The higher the number, the stronger the protection. Sunscreens must also be broad spectrum and be sure to check the expiration date! Reapply sunscreen often especially after lots of swimming and perspiration.
Wearing sunglasses will help protect your eyes from cataracts. Always try to keep the smallest kids out of the sun since babies under six months of age should not wear sunscreen. Hats, shade, and canopies are the best ways to protect baby’s tender skin from the sun’s scorching rays.
Safety In Your Own Backyard
At home, it’s also important for parents to keep a well stocked first aid kit on hand. It should include bandages and allergy medications. The average backyard can be a great outdoor space for playing around, but it can also pose some safety risks of its own: poison ivy, harmful insects, or splinters from wooden furniture or fences, to name a few.
Summer is an incredible time of year. It is an opportunity for families to spend lots of quality time together and explore new activities and old favorites alike. Arming your kids with the tools and tips they need to stay safe and establish healthy habits will give you and your family the confidence to try new things and grow closer with one another.