Summer is synonymous with carefree fun, but it may also mean sunburns, scrapes, mosquito bites, and more. Children’s traumatic injuries can double in the summer months. Some pediatric experts even refer to summer as “trauma season.”
To help keep your kids safe during the summer, here are 10 safety tips:
1. Never leave children alone around the pool.
No matter a child’s age or swimming ability, close supervision in and around pools is a must. To help prevent children from entering a pool unattended, install fencing at least 5 feet high, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Purchase a cover for a portable pool. If you are ever unable to locate a young child, check the pool first.
2. Examine all play areas.
Do a quick safety assessment of any outdoor area before engaging in your activity. For example, if you’re at a playground, look for loose ropes, hot play surfaces, and hard ground. Rubber mats, wooden chips, or mulch are good; grass, asphalt, or concrete won’t provide the same protection against injury in the event of a fall.
3. Use safety gear, including helmets.
Bike helmets help reduce the risk of death or severe brain injury. They’re mandated by law in some states and municipalities. For activities like skateboarding, roller skating, and rollerblading, knee pads and elbow pads will also help prevent injury. A life vest is a must for children when boating.
4. Avoid heat-related illness.
Avoid the sun when its rays are the most intense—roughly 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Be alert for signs of heat exhaustion, including thirst, fatigue, and leg or abdominal cramps. Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heatstroke, which is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Heatstroke signs include dizziness, confusion, trouble breathing, headaches, flushed or hot/dry skin, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, changes in blood pressure, and body temperature of 104°F or higher.
5. Keep kids hydrated.
Remind your children to drink throughout the day. If they’re actively engaged in physical activity, they should drink about every 20 minutes. A child weighing about 88 pounds should take in about 5 ounces of water or sports drink (not soda, juice, or other fruit drinks) at a time. Signs of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, dry mouth, irritability, lethargy, fatigue, dark yellow urine, sunken eyes, and lack of sweat, tears, or urine.
6. Use sunscreen.
Apply a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater 20–30 minutes before sun exposure, to allow for adequate absorption. Reapply it as needed, typically every 2 hours but sooner if swimming or sweating. For babies under 6 months old, hats and shade are the first defense against sun damage; otherwise, parents may apply a small dab of sunscreen to limited areas (for example, your baby’s face and the back of her hands).
7. Be careful with insect repellents.
Consumer Reports found that the most effective mosquito repellents were those with 15–30 percent DEET, 20 percent picaridin, or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends not using repellents on babies younger than 2 months old and not using OLE on children under 3 years of age. Have children wash repellent off when they return indoors.
8. Avoid car-related heatstroke.
Never leave your child alone in a hot car, even for a few minutes. Every year, children die from car-related heatstroke. Temperatures can climb quickly, even with the windows down, and a child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult’s. Read more about overheating in cars here.
9. Be wary of fire and flames.
When it comes to fireworks, even sparklers can reach temperatures above 1,000°F and burn users and bystanders. Instead of setting off sparklers at home, take your children to a regulated community fireworks display. Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from grills and barbecue pits, and place grills at least 10 feet away from your house or other buildings.
10. Don’t let children go to playgrounds alone.
More than 200,000 children under the age of 14 visit the emergency department each year with playground-related injuries. When playing at playgrounds and parks, young children should always be accompanied by a parent or other adult. Older children may be safe with a friend who can get immediate help if an accident occurs.
Additional summer safety tips are available from the CDC .