10 summer safety tips for kids

First slide

School is almost out for the summer and that means a new schedule for children. Whether kids are swimming, biking, traveling, heading off to camp or playing in the backyard, the summer months bring different safety concerns. Keep your kids safe this summer with these tips.

Sunscreen and bug spray

Sunburn is no fun for anyone. Make sure you have sunscreen on hand. Since sunscreen does expire, check the expiration date before using it. Put it on your children every day and reapply it multiple times, particularly if kids are swimming or sweating. If you are in an area with bugs, consider using bug spray to protect them from bites. Look for products containing DEET, follow the instructions carefully and keep the bug spray away from hands and faces so it is not ingested.

Helmets and safety equipment

Children should always wear a properly fitting helmet and other protective gear when bicycling, skating, riding a scooter, etc., to protect their heads and bodies in the event of a fall. Check to see if your child has outgrown his or her helmet and equipment and replace equipment that is too small.

Playground equipment

It may have been a while since you used the swings in your backyard or the equipment at the local playground. Before your kids play on it, make sure that it is still in good working order and is age appropriate for your child. Check for sharp edges, missing screws, rusted pieces and other items that could cause injury. If the equipment is too big or too small for your child, look for an alternative place to play.

Swimming

Children should never be in or around bodies of water without adult supervision. Even the most confident swimmer can have an emergency. If you have a pool in your backyard, put up barriers and alarms to keep children out when there is no adult supervision, and make sure you know what supervision your child will have when visiting a friend's pool.

CPR and first aid

You may never need to use it, but having CPR and first-aid skills can make a big difference in an emergency situation. Also, make sure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit at home and in your car. The Centers for Disease Control offer great suggestions for contents at cdc.gov/features/travelhealthkit.

Contact information

Kids may have a new carpool routine, a new summer sitter or just be out and about more in the neighborhood. Make sure you have a current list of names and phone numbers for all of your children's friends, their parents and anyone else that your child may be with during the summer months. Check in with your child throughout the day if possible and communicate schedule changes so that everyone knows where they are supposed to be and when.

Cars

Never leave your child alone in the car while you are out, even if it is to run a short errand. Temperatures inside a vehicle can escalate quickly, even if the outside temperatures appear mild. While traveling, make sure everyone is buckled in properly and that children are in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats.

Hydration

Children can quickly become dehydrated, even in the shade. Have everyone take regular water breaks and stay in a cooler place during the hottest part of the day.

Vacation

Illnesses and injuries do not take vacations. If traveling, take appropriate medications and insurance information with you, and look for the closest hospital or urgent care clinic in the area. This can alleviate some anxiety and save time during an emergency.

Summer chores

Teach your children the importance of safety around lawnmowers, weed whackers and other dangerous tools, as these may look like toys to younger kids. Try to use these in areas where children are not playing and do not let children younger than 12 years old push the lawnmower. Find more age appropriate chores for the little ones.

Kriebel is Arlington diocesan director of risk management.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2011