Many happy memories are formed during the summer – for kids, it’s a seemingly endless stretch of days playing outdoors, swimming in the pool, reuniting with camp friends, or heading off on vacation adventures. With that summer fun comes important summer safety tips:
Prevent heat-related illness
Heat-related illness can occur when your body temperature control becomes overloaded. Babies and children up to four years old are at the greatest risk, but anyone can become sick if they are participating in strenuous physical activity on a very hot day.
- Stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty – drink as a preventive measure. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, which can cause you to lose more body fluid. And be careful with very cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps. (If you’re on water pills or are limited in the amount of fluid you drink, ask your doctor how much to drink in hot weather.)
- Spending time in an air conditioned area will help your body to remain cooler when you go back out in the heat. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, visit a shopping mall, library, movie theater – or even the gym! If your area is experiencing an extreme heat wave, your county health department may have heat-relief shelters available.
- You can also lower your body temperature with a cool shower or bath.
- If you have elderly neighbors, try to check on them at least once a day during a heat stretch and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Additionally, watch your children very closely any time they are out in extreme heat.
- Try to limit your time outdoors to early morning or the evenings when the sun is down and the air is cooler. Although exercise should be part of your daily health routine, limit outdoor exercise when it’s very hot. If you are out exercising, be sure to stay hydrated and rest often in the shade.
- It is never safe for a child (or adult) to be left in a parked car in any kind of heat. Children’s bodies heat up much faster than adults’, and heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children.
Spending time in pools, lakes, and oceans is a great way to have fun and get exercise – for kids and parents. However, drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. You can help to protect your children by doing the following:
- Closely supervise your children in or around water;
- Have your children take swimming lessons;
- Learn CPR, or be sure that there is always someone available who is CPR-trained when people are swimming; and
- Be sure that each person wears a properly-fitted life jacket when engaging in recreational boating.
It’s also important to be aware of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs), sicknesses caused by the germs and chemicals contained in swimming water – from pools, sprinklers, and hot tubs to rivers, lakes, and oceans. Although pool water is kept clean with the use of chlorine, germs can still survive and spread, so it’s important to:
- Take a shower with soap before getting into the pool, and rinse again each time you’re about to reenter the water.
- If you’re swimming with young children, be sure to change diapers every 30-60 minutes, and change them away from the pool deck.
- Don’t swallow pool water.
- Be sure that the pool has the correct free chlorine and pH levels.
More than 200,000 children are treated in the emergency room for playground-related injuries each year. If you’re supervising a child at a playground, check to be sure that surfaces beneath equipment are soft, safe, and well-maintained.
In addition, children and teens should wear proper protective equipment for sports and other recreational activities. Children are required to wear bike helmets when cycling, but it’s also a good idea to wear helmets and wrist, knee, and elbow pads when engaging in activities like inline skating.
Check out the CDPHP family health guide for more information on keeping your family safe and healthy. And our Summer Fun Series has even more resources for you, from protecting your skin from the sun to useful tips for safe travel.
Have a great summer!