Summer is a time when lots of family create life-long memories. Vacations offer a chance for everyone to get away from the daily grind and explore someplace new. Some families choose to spend the summer closer to home with a “staycation.” You can still relax, have fun and spend time together without the added expense of travel.
One experience a family doesn’t want to have is when someone is injured or worse or falls ill during the summer break. To help make summer is a little safer remember these common sense safety tips.
Water Safety: Probably the number one danger to children in the summer is drowning.
· Make sure your child learns how to swim.
· Never leave your child unattended around water. We know it sounds strict, but there is no room for compromise on this one. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
· Drowning is silent. Always watch your child when they are in a pool, lake, ocean or pond.
· Have a flotation device nearby to toss into the water for a child to grab if they are tired or in danger.
· If you cannot swim, make sure that there is an adult who can swim with you when your children are in the water.
· Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water.
· Keep pool areas fenced and locked when no one is in the pool.
· Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
· Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. It’s also a good idea to keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
· Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.
Hot Cars: Another danger for small children is hot cars. When a child dies or is injured in a hot car, it’s one of the most preventable tragedies. Parents and caregivers can forget they have a small child in the back seat of a car, or they can leave them in the car not realizing how fast the temperature will rise in a very short time. Occasionally, a child will enter a parked car and accidently lock themselves in.
· Always look before you lock your car.
• Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
• Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Put something you’ll need in the back seat- like a briefcase or purse.
• If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
• Never leave a child unattended in a car. Opening windows will not prevent heatstroke. Heatstroke can happen on cloudy days and when the temperature outside is below 70 degrees.
• If your traveling with several children, do a head count – see each child- before locking or leaving the car.
• If your child is missing, check your car first thing.
If you see an unattended child alone in a car, take action!. Don’t wait more than a couple of minutes for the driver to return. If you see a child is unresponsive or in distress; call 911. Get the child out of the car then spray the him or her with cool water (not an ice bath). If the child is responsive, stay with them until help arrives. Send someone else to find the driver.
Food Safety: Who doesn’t love a good picnic or grilled meal? However, food borne illnesses are not something you’ll enjoy.
• Keep cold foods cold.
• Don’t keep any foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours -- or 1 hour if it’s warmer than 90 degrees.
• Don’t reuse platters that have held raw meat until you wash them thoroughly.
• Keep your grill away from buildings and branches.
• Don’t let grease build up.
• Never leave your grill unattended.
• Keep kids and pets away.
• Does yours use propane? Test for leaks before the season starts. If you ever smell gas while you’re cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.
Bug Bites: Summer brings bugs, ticks, bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, chiggers, spiders and other pests.
Mosquitoes are more than a bother. They can spread West Nile virus. Most people who get the virus have no symptoms at all. But very serious and sometimes fatal illness can happen in less than 1% of those infected.
The only way to avoid West Nile is to avoid mosquito bites. Wear mosquito repellent and, if weather permits, long pants and long sleeves outside from dusk to dawn.
At home, get rid of standing water in birdbaths, buckets, and tire swings. They’re breeding grounds for mosquitos.
A bite from a tick is not usually a big deal, but the wrong type of tick can cause real problems. Ticks can cause diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection that occurs mostly in the South Atlantic region in the U.S. If the family is trekking in wooded areas. Make sure that everyone is:
• Wearing light-colored long pants, so it’s easier to spot ticks.
• Tucks their pants into socks or high-top boots or tape them to boots.
• Wearing a hat and long-sleeved shirt, tucked in.
• Sprays or rubs insect repellent on the tops of boots, exposed area of socks, and pants openings (inside cuffs, waistband, and fly).
• Using insect repellant with DEET on your exposed skin. For children, choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET. If your pets go outside, check them regularly for ticks so they don't bring them in the house.
Fire ants have a painful bite and some children are allergic to them. Check your yard for fire ant mounds and if you find any, have them removed professionally.
If you’ve ever had chigger bites, you know how miserable they are. Keep your grass cut short and use bug repellent. Shoes and socks also offer some protection.
During bug season, a good repellent is going to be your best bet to protect your child and yourself from many of these pesky critters.
Shark Attacks: If you’re headed to the ocean, sunburn is more likely to be a problem for your child than a shark bite, however, this year is quickly on the way to setting a record for shark attacks. Here are some ways to lessen the risks.
• Avoid being in the water at twilight, when sharks are most active.
• Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding.
• Don’t wear shiny jewelry when you swim. It could look like fish scales to a shark.
• Know that sharks are sometimes near the shore. Sandbars can trap them close to the beach at low tide.
• Skip swimming after heavy rains, which may move some freshwater fish, including sharks, into areas they would not otherwise frequent.
Sunburn: Summertime can mean sunburn time as well. Not only are they painful; but sunburns can do more damage to the skin long after it has healed. Children are more prone to sunburn because of their delicate skin.
Try to keep your child out of the sun when the peak ultraviolet rays occur (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.).
In addition, follow these guidelines:
• Always use a sunscreen to block the damaging ultraviolet rays. Choose a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. (Check the label.) Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Keep in mind that no sunscreens are truly waterproof, and thus they need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time in the water. Consult the instructions on the bottle.
• Dress your child in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants.
• Use a beach umbrella or similar object to keep her in the shade as much as possible.
• Have her wear a hat with a wide brim.
• Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. If adequate clothing and shade are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands.
Heat Exhaustion: Too much heat can make you or your child very sick. Take special care with children and the elderly, because their bodies don’t cool as well. Kids are particularly at risk for heat cramps when they aren't drinking enough fluids.
Although painful, heat cramps on their own aren't serious. Cramps can be the first sign of more serious heat illness, so they should be treated right away to help avoid any problems.
Don’t let your child play outside during the hottest part of the day. Make sure they have plenty of fluids and a cool place to rest. If you suspect your child is suffering from heat exhaustion, call 911. Symptoms can include:
• Increased thirst
• Muscle cramps
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Increase sweating
• Cool, clammy skin
• Elevation of body temperature, but less than 104°F (40°C)
Protect Your Feet!
One minute you’re strolling barefoot. The next, you’re in pain. Puncture wounds happen more often in summer, when bare feet meet nails, glass, toothpicks, and seashells.
The biggest problem is infection. Heat, swelling, and drainage are signs that need quick medical attention. You may also need to update your tetanus shot.
These are just a few tips to help prevent some serious summertime injuries. Sometimes the problems are just an annoyance, other times they can be fatal. Summer is about fun and family time together. Just use common sense and follow these simple rules for a safer summer.