Long days, warm nights, sundresses, family vacations and sitting pool-side – is it any wonder so many people just love summer? With the kids out of school, it’s a great time for families to spend together doing outdoor activities and exploring new spaces. Along with spending most of the day outside comes a lot of dangers we don’t often think about the rest of the year.
Bug bites are not only itchy and uncomfortable, they could potentially be dangerous. With the Zika Virus in the news and harmful diseases carried by ticks, you’ll want to take extra precautions to stay protected.
- Eliminate standing water from your yard, including fountains. Cover up pools when not in use.
- Stay away from thick bushy or wooded areas. Stick to walking paths when going on hikes.
- If you know you’ll be in an area with a large bug population, cover up with long sleeves and pants.
- Use Bug repellent. Bug repellent doesn’t have to be chemical-based. There are several essential oils that are natural repellents, and citronella candles and some plants will keep mosquitoes away from your immediate area.
- If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about how to protect yourself from the Zika Virus.
Whenever a child is on a bike or any self-powered wheels, make sure he/she has a properly fitting helmet specifically designed for bike use. Adults should also wear helmets when on bicycles. It’s not only safer, when mom and dad wear helmets they are setting the right example for their kids. Finally, if you plan on taking bikes on normal streets, teach your children basic traffic laws and hand signals for bicycles.
When around water sources, children need 100% supervision 100% of the time. Make sure to get rid of all distractions (such as your phone). Water sources include, but aren’t limited to, pools (backyard, community and baby pools), bathtubs, buckets, toilets, streams, creeks, lakes, rivers and oceans. If on a boat or other watercraft, make sure your little ones are wearing lifejackets at all times. Discourage children from running around water sources or slick areas. If you have a pool in the backyard, surround it with a 4-sided, sturdy locked fence.
Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of the heat and summer sun. Additional vigilance is required to keep everyone in the family healthy during the summer months.
- Keep your children hydrated. Do not wait for your child to say he/she is thirsty before offering water - insist they drink it.
- Avoid sun exposure between peak hours (10am – 6pm)
- Wear protective clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Wear sunscreen! Look for sunscreens with an SPF of at least 45.
- Make sure everyone is dressed in light-weight, light-colored clothing. Wearing breathable fabrics like cotton is key.
- Never, never, never leave your child in the car. Even if you are running a quick errand, bring your child with you. Cars are susceptible to the greenhouse effect, making the interiors much hotter than outside.
Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac aren’t just dangers limited to camping trips. Sometimes they can grow right in your back yard. Learn how to identify these plants, and wear protective clothing – long sleeves, pants and gloves – when spending time in overgrown bushy areas. Never let your baby or toddler pull at plants or bushes, because whatever is pulled off will likely end up in their mouth.
It goes without saying that children should never be allowed near a grill. Even long after you’re done using it, the grill can remain very hot for several hours. But there are other important precautions to take before your next barbeque party. Always make sure to keep the grill at least 10ft away from your house and have a fire extinguisher nearby. Clean your grill regularly and never turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. Finally, keep a meat thermometer handy to make sure everything is cooked fully before serving.
Having a first aid kit at the ready is always a good idea during the summer months and year-round. Also, a list of emergency numbers in your phone or on your refrigerator may come in handy. A safe summer is a fun summer, so protecting yourself from the elements is key to getting the most out of these warm months!