School’s out! Gearing up for summer safety

It may seem like the 2020–2021 school year just began, but now it’s come to an end. And while your kids are focused on summer fun, you want to be sure they’re also paying attention to summer safety. After all, you want to spend your days in the summer warmth, not at the doctor’s office!

While you may be familiar with some of these summer safety guidelines, it’s been a while, so let us refresh your memory.

Summer safety tip 1: Protect the skin.

This one may seem obvious, but it’s so important. Anytime you and the kids are headed outdoors, you’ll want to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the powerful sun.

There are three basic principles for sun protection you’ll want to remember:

  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Apply the sunscreen to all exposed skin at least 30 minutes before heading outdoors.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours while outdoors — and more often when swimming or sweating.

In addition to sunscreen use, there are other steps you can take to protect the skin.

Wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect the eyes, face and neck. Limit the time you spend outside during the hottest, most intense hours of the day, between 10 AM and 3 PM. If you can’t stay indoors, seek shade whenever possible.

Summer safety tip 2: Drink up.

When kids are out running around on carefree summer days, it can be all too easy for them to become dehydrated.

That’s why it’s important to remind them to drink plenty of water during the day. Send them out to play with a bottle of water in hand — and keep extra bottles of water and other non-calorie beverages within easy access.

Do your little ones hate water? That’s OK! Try flavored water or tempt them with popsicles and other frozen treats. You can also help them stay hydrated by serving up plenty of fruits and vegetables with a high water content, like berries, melons, peppers and lettuce.

Summer safety tip 3: Steer clear of bugs.

This one can be easier said than done — especially since the bugs are out in abundance this year. But you can take steps to protect yourself and your little ones.

If you’re spending time outdoors, particularly near areas with ample trees and bushes, apply bug repellent containing DEET. Look for products that include a concentration of no more than 30 percent DEET. The exception: If your child is younger than 2 months old, you’ll want to avoid DEET altogether.

When it comes to ticks, a tick check is essential. When you return indoors, check yourself, your kids and your pets for ticks. If one is found, be careful not to squeeze it. Instead, slowly pull the tick out.

Summer safety tip 4: Practice water safety.

The numbers are sobering. Drownings are the leading cause of injury death among kids ages 1 to 4. Every day, ten people die from drowning. Of those ten people, two are children 14 years of age or younger.

That’s why it is so important to be safe when around any type of water.

Teach kids to swim as early as possible. But even if they know how to swim, adult monitoring is essential. For young kids, it’s important for an adult to remain at arm’s length anytime they’re in a body of water.

If you have a pool, ensure the pool area remains secured and inaccessible to unsupervised children at all times. Pools should have a four-sided tall fence around them.

If your water time involves boating, be sure everyone wears a properly fitted life jacket. It may seem like an annoyance, but it can truly be a lifesaver.

Finally, learn CPR and basic water rescue skills. The faster CPR is initiated, the better the chance of survival and improved outcomes.

Summer safety tip 5: Watch their online time.

This one might seem like a strange summer safety tip. But the reality is that during the summer, many kids spend more time online than they do during the school year.

And with more time spent online comes an increased risk of encountering online dangers, including bullies and unsafe or inappropriate content.

Be sure to maintain your normal online safety rules — and keep a careful eye on what your child is viewing, when he or she is doing it and how often he or she is doing it.

Lindsay Bass, BSN, RN, is the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention & Outreach Coordinator at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. She is a Child Passenger Safety Technician and leads the Southeast Coalition for Safe Kids and Children’s Hospital at Erlanger Safe & Sound program. If you have questions about summer safety, please call (423) 778-6691.

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, emergencies occur. If an emergency situation with your child crops up this summer, rest assured knowing that Children’s Hospital at Erlanger offers specialized emergency care for area kids.