20 Smart Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe This Summer
A self-diagnosed klutz myself, it was no surprise to me that my son should have been born wearing a safety helmet!
While we’ve avoided broken bones, his physical safety is a “must” on my parenting list.
With summer quickly approaching and with all the kiddos wanting to venture outside, there are other things I need to protect my little buddy from.
Read on to make sure your summer is spent safely and that your little ones’ healthy and happiness is your top priority!
1) Avoid Poison
Before the kids start playing outside, do a scan around the yard to check for poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
If you find some, you can treat the area, and you can also alert the kiddos to stay clear.
Take time to pull up pics online to show them the difference between a standard leaf and a poison leaf (and also the saying, “If it’s three, let it be.”).
Poison sumac looks a little different than ivy or oak, so point out that it grows in clusters of 7-13 leaves.
If you take family walks, you could even go on a poison scavenger hunt to see if your kids can identify bushes around your block that they need to avoid.
2) Make an Emergency Car Kit
One of the most valuable items I have in my car is an emergency kit!
It helps ease my mind when I leave the house because as we know, emergencies pop up, and what you pack in your baby bag or purse may not cover the circumstance, especially when traveling in the summer.
I have a small bag in my trunk filled with band aids, sanitizer, bottled water, change, crackers, tissue, diapers—you name it.
These kits should be personalized to your family’s needs and things can be added to them at any time.
Check out this amazing post from Endlessly Inspired for more ideas!
3) Invest in a Helmet
As a parent, we all know that accidents happen. But, you never want to mess around with activities that could cause potential head injuries!
So, when skateboarding, biking, or roller skating, you always want to strap a helmet onto your child.
If they are hesitant about wearing one, let them pick out their own; or do not let them resume their activity without wearing one. Period.
Older children are capable of understanding the dangers of playing without one, so strike up a conversation about what could happen if the head gets bumped from a fall or mishap.
4) Pick up Knee and Elbow Pads
My son caught the roller skating bug, so I figured he would love skating around the driveway this summer. After all, it’s an excellent form of exercise!
Since wanting to skate on his own, I was sure to not only invest in a helmet, but knee and elbow pads.
Asphalt can really do a number on these sensitive areas, so when he skates, he skates fully protected!
5) Red Flag Berries
If you grow your own strawberries or raspberries, your small children may be used to plucking off a fruit to enjoy as an impromptu snack. But, during summer when flowers and fruits are growing full force, you need to watch out for poisonous berries.
It takes just a moment for a child to pop one in their mouth, so scan your property thoroughly to ensure you are aware if any are nearby. And, if so, be sure to label the bush or area of yard off limits.
Don’t be afraid to literally string yellow tape across the area where your child is not allowed to be!
6) Leave the Bugs Alone
Searching for and collecting bugs can be a really fun activity in the summer. But, it’s not the safest thing to do!
Besides the fact that numerous children are allergic to bees, there is also a creepy, crawly little culprit that can make your kiddos sick. Many caterpillars are poisonous and can sting!
Not to mention, fire ants can also leave your kids in pain if they come in contact with them.
When searching around in tall grasses for bugs, they are also in danger of coming in contact with ticks, and falling victim to mosquito bites. Zika is a relatively new disease that is contracted through mosquito bites.
So, be sure to wear sleeves and pants in the evening, avoid stagnant bodies of water (be sure to dump out your water play table daily), and wear proper propellant. Mosquitoes hate lemongrass, so be sure to find a spray that contains the fragrance.
Lighting citronella candles in the evening is also a wise idea to not only keep mosquitoes away, but all bugs!
If you have the financial means, consider purchasing an outdoor pergola that allows you to be enclosed in mesh netting, so eating outdoors never becomes an unpleasant (or dangerous!) experience.
So, while bug collecting is definitely fun, it is something that should be done with parental guidance and with limitations.
7) Slather on Lots of Sunscreen
My son hates sunscreen. To him, it’s a form of torture!
He’s certainly not alone.
It’s wise to get sunscreen slathered on your children prior to moving outdoors (because once you’re out there, it’s quite a task to get them to stop and put it on). Some children prefer a spray or mist over traditional lotion, which is fine.
Both are effective as long as they boast waterproof qualities (and even then, you still need to reapply every couple hours) and a 50 plus protection.
Also, keep in mind one of the biggest overlooked areas on our kiddos are their ears and scalp. So if you aren’t up for putting lotion throughout their strands, a hat is a must on outdoor days!
8) Keeping on Sunscreen!
Sometimes putting sunscreen on is only half the battle.
How about actually keeping it on?
As I mentioned above, your first step is to choose a waterproof formula. It stays on more effectively when sweating or swimming (but it’s not fool-proof; it will come off eventually).
You can make your sunscreen last longer by applying it 30 minutes before venturing outside or jumping in the pool. It will have had plenty of time to soak in, and you can be sure your child is protected until you reapply.
When reapplying, choose a time like lunch or snack time, where your child won’t mind being out of the pool; this break also gives the lotion plenty of time to get absorbed!
9) Create a Sun-Free Space
Kids sometimes need a physical break from the sun, and more often than not, you have to be the one to make them leave the rays and settle in a sun-free space.
Set up a tent, or even move them into a covered garage so they can still enjoy the fresh air, but not risk the chance of serious sunburn or heat exhaustion. (And for babies, a stroller fan is always a good idea!)
You can even transition them inside into the air conditioning when they need a break to do something more low key and relaxing, like art projects, puzzles, and movies.
While it’s tempting to stay out all day long, it’s just not safe for anyone, regardless of their age and activity level (although all kids will tell you they’re invincible).
Also, remember that the sun is strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so monitor your child’s temperature and breathing carefully!
10) Host a Hydration Station
Kids get so involved in running, climbing, and swinging, that they don’t really think to stop and take a drink break.
But, during hot summer months, it’s so important to remain hydrated. Make drinking water more fun by setting up a visible hydration station outdoors by their play area!
You can fill a jug with ice, lemon, and other accompaniments they enjoy, and place colorful cups with wacky straws out, to encourage sipping for not just your little one, but all the kids in the neighborhood.
Check out Nerdy Mamma for more inspiration!
11) Be Alert for Allergies
While summer brings warm weather and lots of sunshine, it also brings out allergies!
Children can be born with seasonal allergies or they can just develop them.
Keep your eyes peeled for itchy throats, runny noses, leaking eyes, trouble breathing, difficulty sleeping, and red/puffiness in the face.
Starting your kids on allergy medicine is easy, and usually necessary if they want to play comfortably outdoors.
12) Check on Flotation Devices
Before your first trip to the pool, be sure to make your kids try on their life vests.
You want to make sure it’s not too loose or too tight.
As a rule of thumb, check the tag’s weight capacities, and make sure it’s Coast Guard approved for optimal swimming safety.
Planning on taking the kids out on a boat? Be sure to order them a special life vest that is designed solely for rough waters (yes, there are several different safety levels!)
13) Stock up on First Aid Essentials
Skinned knees, brush burns, bruises, bug bites—summer hosts a lot of activities, but also a lot of potential for injury.
Before summer arrives, stock your pantry full off peroxide, band aids, ice packs, and lots of other “goodies” that will make the kids feel better in a jiffy!
14) Establish Outdoor Ground Rules
Kids need boundaries and guidelines, so giving them a set of clear expectations will help your kids stay safe and secure when playing outdoors.
While you want them to have an “epic” childhood, you may not want them to climb the tallest tree on your block, or jump off a rock into a pond, or ride their bike off a makeshift ramp (yes, you’ll be a buzz kill but too bad!)
So, take a walk around the yard, park, and neighborhood with your kids to explain things they can and cannot do when playing solo and with friends.
Better safe than sorry!
15) Invest in a Cell Phone
The day will come when your school aged children will want to venture off to the park or a friend’s house on their bike, without you.
While that is totally a judgement call, there are some things you may want to invest in before letting them bike around the neighborhood without you. A cell phone should be number one safety device on your list!
If your kids are too young (or another technological device is not in your financial future), you can have them carry a pay by minute phone.
This way, you can check in on your child and they can also access a device quickly if an emergency arises such as a stranger nearby or if they’ve fallen off their bike.
16) Watch What You Eat
Picnics are always filled with fun and festive foods. However, those foods may not always stay the freshest in the heat!
A good rule of thumb is to keep the kids away from mayonnaise based dips and dishes, because mayo (as well as other milk products), tends to be the top most dangerous food contender.
Same for deviled eggs, fish dishes, and sushi.
And, there’s nothing wrong with doing the good old smell test. If something smells funky, politely decline!
Be sure to also give food items sitting out a physical look over. Avoid things that wilt, are crumbling, or that are sitting uncovered (ew—flies love that).
Going camping? You also want to make sure any and all meat is cooked through (keep a pop in thermometer on hand), and that any meat you pack for the trip is not only packed on ice and kept cool, but looks and smells fresh before you cook it!
17) Banish Bee Stings
Everyone gets stung by a bee at one point or another. So, it’s great to be prepared for these unsavory situations.
One of the most effective bee sting relievers I’ve come across can be whipped up in a jiffy.
Simply mix baking soda with water in order to form a thick paste. Clump the concoction onto the sting for about 15 minutes and you or your child should get quick relief.
If your child feels their throat closing up, if they get dizzy, or the pain and swelling does not diminish, take them to the emergency room right away, as they may be allergic.
Need to remove the stinger? A tip I found useful involves the use of a credit card.
I take the card and scrape it across the small black dot. This helps pull the singer out to the side. It also helps prevent venom from being released down into the sting.
Don’t have a card on you and need to remove it quickly? A blunt fingernail will do!
18) Pool Safety
The number one rule your child needs to follow is to never swim alone.
Children who swim at public pools are also in danger, but it’s a different kind. There is such a thing as being a too crowded pool.
Teach your kids to jump away from others, and if they feel as though they are being bombarded by other kids jumping in the pool, to grab onto the wall and move to another area.
It’s also important to teach kids the importance of knowing what shallow means, and where they can and cannot jump. Walk to perimeter of the pool before they swim to show them where it’s deep enough to dive, but also jump.
Pool games turn into a cool activity as your kids hit the school age, so be sure to inform them about the dangers of chicken fighting, ducking others, and having splash fights.
Your child should also be trained to alert you to inform you of when they are moving to the deep end, jumping off the diving board, or going down a waterslide.
19) Fight Off Sunburn
Sunburn happens to the best of us, even when we take every precaution necessary.
Sometimes, the sun just wins. If you notice your child is red, or if they complain of pain, break off an aloe plant stem and rub its juices gently over the tender areas.
You can also have your child take a cold shower or bath, and keep the burnt area covered, which means staying out of the sun for a bit!
Pain medication like Motrin can also cut down on the irritation your kids may feel.
20) Distance When Grilling Rule
According to Parent’s Magazine, about half of the accidental burns that happen in the summertime happen to kids under the age of 4 when parents are grilling.
Always be aware of your body, food and plate placement, and the position of your child when cooking.
Better yet, ensure all kids stay inside when using the grill when possible. If your child does suffer a burn, be sure to hold the burnt area under cold running tap water for 10 minutes.
Place a loose dressing over the burn and keep it clean with soap and water. Seek immediate medical attention if the burn blisters or looks waxy.
Summer is the season full of action, adventure, smiles, and satisfaction.
While it’s important to enjoy every aspect of it, it’s also essential to do so safely.
The 20 tips outlined above will keep all members of the family in line and taken care of.
Be sure to have fun, but most importantly, be sure to be safe!