As the weather warms and wool socks are traded in for flip flops, here are a few seasonal safety tips that will ensure that your family-fun outing stays just that.
Whether it’s an afternoon at the beach, out on the river or a picnic in the park, protecting your child’s skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays is always important. Severe sunburns can increase a child’s risk for future skin cancer. Follow these guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent dangerous sun exposure:
- Apply sunscreen that provides at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection 30 minutes before you plan on being outdoors. Follow the directions for reapplying on the sunscreen bottle. Be sure to check the expiration date on your sunscreen.
- Protect exposed skin by wearing long pants or shirts if possible. Dry and dark colored clothing offer the most protection from harmful rays.
- Hats can offer protection for sensitive areas like the neck, ears, scalp and face. Baseball caps provide limited shade, so be sure to apply sunscreen to exposed areas.
- It is also important to protect your child’s eyes to prevent future issues. Select sunglasses that provide as much UVA and UVB protection as possible.
- Seek shade or go indoors at midday when harmful rays are more direct to the earth.
Lightening strikes occur most often during summer months. According to the National Weather Service, over 60 lightning-related deaths occur each year in the United States. This is why the organization stands by the the motto: “If thunder roars, go indoors.”
- At the first roll of thunder, seek shelter. The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is in a completely enclosed building, not in a pavillion or patio.
- If shelter is not available, the second safest place to be during a thunderstorm is in an enclosed, hard-topped, metal car.
- There is nothing worse than having a family pool day ruined by an unexpected storm, but if you can hear thunder, you are within lightning range. Never allow your children to remain in or near a body of water during a thunderstorm. Seek shelter immediately.
- Stay away from tall, isolated objects like trees and cell phone towers.
- Lying flat on the ground does not actually protect you from being struck. In fact, it can put you at a greater risk. Continue to seek shelter.
- Avoid metal objects and surfaces.
Swimming is among the most popular of summer activities, but without taking the proper safety precautions, it can also be one of the most dangerous. The American Red Cross recommends the following to keep your family safe while out on the water:
- Enroll your child in age-appropriate swim lessons. It is important that every one in your family knows how to swim well and know how to respond to potential water-related emergencies.
- Enforce the buddy-system when it comes to swimming, even if there is a lifeguard on duty. Regardless of how skilled of a swimmer thinks he or she is, no child should ever swim alone or unsupervised. Never leave your child under the supervision of another child.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water.
- Do not allow your child to play around drains in pools or spas.
- Install proper barriers to prevent unsupervised access to home pools.
- Teach your child to follow instructions from lifeguards.
- Do not dive or jump into water without knowing how deep it is or what current water conditions are like.
- Follow posted rules, regulations and warnings at pools, water parks and beaches.
- Pay attention to the color-coded warning flags on the beach and instruct your children to follow the warnings. (Refer to “Beach Warning Flags.”)
- Stay at least 100 feet away from structures like jetties and piers where rip currents are more likely to develop.
- Ensure that members of your family are aware of how to respond if they or someone else were to get caught in a rip current. (Refer to the “Rip Currents: Break the Grip of the Rip!”)