There’s nothing better than seeing children enjoy all the fun summer can bring. But summer can also mean safety concerns for kids. According to the CDC, more than 12,000 kids — aged birth to 19 — die each year from an accidental injury. The National Safe Kids Campaign reports 7 million children visit the ER for accidental injuries each year with those numbers spiking in the summer.
That’s why The Children’s Center has put together this list of helpful advice for Michigan parents and caregivers. Keep kids safe this summer!
Warm Weather Safety
The hot temperatures of summer can put children at risk, especially those under age 4. Heat related injuries occur when the body is unable to control temperature due to extreme overload. To keep kids safe, follow these tips:
- Keep kids hydrated with plenty of clear liquids like water or low-sugar fruit juices. Popsicles are another great way to stay cool and hydrated. There are many healthy and low-sugar varieties.
- Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car. During summer, the temperature in a car can reach well over 100°F even on a mild and overcast day. Even spending just short time in a hot car can cause injury.
- Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
- Schedule outdoor activities during morning and evening hours.
- Stay cool with supervised cool showers or baths.
- Keep windows safe. The summer is a time when your home may have open windows, but this can be a hazard for children. A screen is not sufficient to keep a child from falling out of a window. Don’t put furniture by windows. Small children can climb onto chairs or tables and tumble out. If you have double-hung windows, open them from the top rather than the bottom. Open a window from the bottom no more than four inches. Most importantly, install child-safety window guards.
According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4.Two to three children die every day in the U.S. as a result of drowning. Most happen right in the child’s home and are preventable. To keep kids safe around water:
- The best advice is prevention. Children should be supervised around water at all times. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children. Supervision isn’t just for pools, lakes, or beaches. Children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water. Also be cautious in and around bathtubs, sinks, toilets, buckets, “baby” pools, fountains, birdbaths, fish tanks, ditches and even puddles.
- Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
- Install a four-sided fence around home pools.
- Learn CPR for infants and children.
- Make sure children wear a properly fitted life jacket at all times during recreational boating or swimming in a large and deep body of water.
- Never leave a young child alone in the bathtub or small wading pool.
Sun and Skin Safety
Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Not to mention that a sunburn can be very uncomfortable and downright painful! A child’s skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever he or she is outdoors. Kids are also at risk for other skin-related risks like poison ivy, ticks and other insect bites and stings. Here’s some advice to limit the risk:
- Cover up. Clothing that covers your child’s skin helps protect against UV rays. Use hats and protect the eyes with sunglasses.
- Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 30 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time your child goes outside.
- Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two to three hours — making sure to attain even coverage of all exposed skin.
- If exposed to areas where poison ivy grows, keep skin covered and wash clothes that have come in contact with poison ivy in hot water. Any skin that has been exposed should be rinsed immediately with just cold water, no abrasive soaps.
- Use an effective insect repellent while playing outdoors. Most stings and insect bites can be treated with cold compresses and over the counter medication. Look for severe symptoms beyond slight rash or swelling or red and itchy skin. In the case of severe symptoms, you should seek medical attention.
- Ticks carry Lyme disease, a bacterial disease that can cause flu-like symptoms and can cause serious problems like arthritis and issues with the nervous system if not treated. To avoid ticks, keep skin covered when playing in heavily wooded or grassy areas. Check skin for ticks. Look for red or irritated area of skin that may have a bull’s eye appearance. Remove the tick with tweezers and see your doctor.
Playground & Bike Safety
Falls account for 90% of the most severe equipment-related playground injuries (mostly headinjuries and bone fractures) while lack of proper supervision accounts for about 40% of playground injuries. Many studies show helmets could prevent an estimated 75% of fatal head injuries and up to 45,000 head injuries to children who ride bikes each year. Take these precautions to keep kids safe:
- Be sure playgrounds are properly designed and kids are supervised.
- Children should only play on age-appropriate equipment.
- Check the material under playground equipment to make sure it can absorb shock. Wood chips or shredded rubber are the safest. The coverage also needs to be sufficiently wide and deep — six feet around the equipment and 12 inches down.
- Make sure children wear a properly fitted bike helmet EVERY time they ride their bike, scooter, skateboard etc.
- Young children should ride a bike on the sidewalk or bike path and be accompanied by an adult.
- Kids should know to stop and look both ways before entering a street — whether walking or on a bike.
- If riding in the evening or at night, children should wear reflective clothing and the bike should have a front headlight and a rear red reflector or flashing red light.