Summertime. Kids love it and parents dread it. While you want your child to go outdoors and get some fresh air and sun, you also want them to be safe. Summer should be a time for fun, not injury.
From 10 a.m to 4 p.m is when the sun’s rays are the strongest, so it’s crucial to protect children from the sun during this time. Sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 should be applied to your child at least 30 minutes before they go outdoors, even on cloudy days. The sunscreen should be reapplied every 60 to 90 minutes or after swimming or strenuous activities that cause your child to sweat. For babies under the age of one, it’s best to keep them out of the sun as much as possible. If you do take them out, dress them in light-colored, lightweight clothing with long sleeves and pants. Make sure their head is covered and apply a small amount of sunscreen to their face and the back of their hands. Sunglasses, especially for babies and toddlers, should provide 100% UV protection. When excessive heat and humidity are present, limit outdoor play to no more than 15 minutes. Make sure to have lots of water on hand and have children take periodic shade breaks.
Insects can be a big problem during the summer, so when you send your child outdoors, you need to send them out protected. Don’t use scented soaps and perfumes on your child-these will only attract insects. Use insect repellents that contain DEET; they are the most effective. Don’t apply DEET more than once a day or use it on small children or infants or on the face and hands. Don’t dress your child in bright colors or clothing with a floral print. Check your yard for bee and wasp nests and teach your child to stay away from them if they see any. To protect your child against ticks, have them wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that are tucked in.
Discuss with your child how to deal with any animals they may encounter away from home. Teach them not to scare or sneak up on a dog or cat, or approach a dog or cat they don’t know. Teach them that this also applies to any type of wild animal they might encounter.
Playgrounds are notorious for being the scene of accidents, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep your child from playing there. Instead, you should keep an eye on your child while they play. To prevent burns, make sure the metal slides are cool and the swings are made of rubber, plastic or canvas. Keep your child away from the front and back of swings while someone is using them. Check the equipment for any loose or exposed bolts, jagged edges and areas that can pinch fingers. If you see any, cover them with rubber. Don’t let children ride double on the swings or slides.
In addition to practicing safety away from home, be sure to practice it in your own backyard. When you mow the yard, use a mower that will stop moving if the handle is released. Make sure toys and the like are picked up before mowing the yard. Don’t let children under 12 use a walk-behind mower or children under 16 use a riding mower. Don’t pull the mower backward or in reverse, and wait until the blades stop before checking for clogs or removing the grass catcher.
Winter’s over, school’s out and everyone can’t wait to get outside. As a parent, you want your child to be safe. These tips will help you do just that.
By Rhonda Addy