Monday, July 26, 2010

Child Safety Tips for the Summer Time

Although you should make every effort to keep your children safe year-round, it is especially important in the summer when most kids are out of school. Here are some common hidden dangers your child faces in the summertime, and the best ways you can prevent them.

Summer Heat Tips
Excessive sun and heat exposure can lead to heat-related illness such as dehydration, heat stress and heat stroke and can also cause skin damage and sunburns. All of this can be prevented by keeping kids well-hydrated, taking frequent breaks when playing outside, and watching for symptoms such as thirst, cramps, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and fever. Here are some tips to keep you safe this summer:
  • Drink plenty of fluids and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Chances are if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  • Never leave children alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise to over 122 degrees F within 20 minutes in an enclosed vehicle when the outside temperature is 93 degrees F. Contrary to popular belief, leaving the windows cracked open will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.
  • Protect yourself from the sun, stay in the shade and use sunscreen with an SPF 15 or more.
  • To keep cool on hot days, stay indoors in air-conditioned facilities or plan a trip to the beach or local pool. At temperatures above 94 degrees F fans are not effective at preventing heat-related illness; they push the air around rather than cooling the air down.
  • The coolest part of the day is early morning and late afternoon if you can arrange your outdoor activities to fit around this time of day.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.
  • Children and infants under the age of one should be kept out of the direct sun and are at a higher risk for heat-related illness up to the age of four. Young children do not sweat effectively and therefore have a harder time cooling themselves down. It is important for adults to ensure kids are kept cool and receive plenty of fluids throughout the day.

Common Sun Block mistakes
  • Not using sun block or not applying enough sun block. This is especially common early in the spring or summer, when you don't think it is sunny enough to get burned. The average person uses less than half the recommended amount of sun block when they do apply it on their kids. So apply a thick layer to each section of your child's body, to the point that it is actually hard to work it all in.
  • Missing areas of their child's body when they apply sun block. Many kids, especially younger ones, don't like to have sun block put on them. This can make applying sun block quite the battle, making it easy to miss a shoulder, thigh, or nose.
  • Reapply sun block every few hours, especially when your kids are in the water or sweating a lot. Even sun block that is waterproof should be reapplied often. It is easy to forget when it is late in the day or when you underestimate how long your child will be outside.
  • Remember, to be effective, sun block should be applied about 30 minutes before your kids go outside. If you wait until your kids are already outside, they will be unprotected for about 30 minutes, which is more than enough time to get a sun burn.

Water Safety Tips:
  • Teach your child to swim, but remember that younger children shouldn't be left unsupervised around water even if they know how to swim. Always wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket when on a lake, river or ocean while boating, water skiing, jet skiing or tubing. Have children who don’t know how to swim wear a life vest instead of “floaties” when they are in a pool or water.
  • Educate your children on the different bodies of water such as the ocean, which can have currents and undertow versus still water in a pool.
  • Don't allow children to run around the pool area.
  • Childproof your swimming pool with a fence around your backyard and a fence (at least 4 feet high) around the pool, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Also consider having a phone poolside and learning CPR in case of emergencies.
  • Be aware of swimsuits with the floatation stitched in. The flotation device in the swimsuit needs to be distributed evenly for it to work properly.
  • Always swim with a buddy.

Written by Ronianne Olson
Childcare Director, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate
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