Keep your kids and yourself safe this summer
May 30, 2023
With the arrival of Memorial Day, you may be thinking about picnics, parties and other gatherings over the upcoming summer months. Warmer weather can be a time of great fun, but there are hazards lurking out there that can put a damper on the enjoyment. By taking a few simple precautions, parents, children, relatives, and friends can make the most of the balmy days of the year.
Here are a few safety tips for enjoying some of the most common outdoor, warm weather activities:
If your youngster rides a bike, have him or her wear bright or light-colored clothing so he or she is easily visible. Encourage children to walk bikes across the street instead of riding, making their direction more predictable for vehicle drivers. A helmet is a must. Get your kids into the habit and model it for them yourself when you’re riding. A helmet should be replaced every five years or so. If your child needs a first-time helmet or a replacement and cost is an issue, check with your insurance carrier to see if the company offers free helmets.
Heat and humidity
Heat and humidity in the summer months affect almost everything in your daily routine. Plan walks or outdoor play for the morning before the day heats up, or for late afternoon when the day starts to cool down. Make a list of shaded or indoor activities for the hottest part of the day – think bubbles or reading on a blanket under your favorite tree.
Your body can sweat up to two and a half gallons of water per day in extreme heat, and the liquid needs to be replaced. When walking, hiking or engaging in any strenuous outdoor activity, make sure you hydrate throughout the day. This is especially important after exercise, sports or intense yard work. Pay attention to the color of your urine–it should be clear or very pale yellow. Stay ahead of things–by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already possibly dehydrated and playing catchup.
Anytime your youngster is in the sun, make sure he or she wears sunblock with an SPF of at least 50, and remember that you can still get burned on an overcast day. Reapply every two hours, and after excessive sweating or time in the water.
Reapplication of sunscreen is vitally important during extended time outdoors, health experts say. Hospitals and doctor’s offices see many cases of sunburn in patients who did apply sunscreen but did so just once. Everyone needs sunblock, regardless of skin color. Add a hat and a loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt to stay cool and provide skin coverage. Choose sunglasses to protect your eyes – look for options that block at least 99 percent of UV light.
Open bodies of water and swimming
Remind older children to stay back from river and creek banks, and lakeshores and ponds, when by themselves, and always be sure younger children explore these areas with an adult.
Safety experts stress that it’s important to help children understand that just because they’re near the edge doesn’t mean the water is shallow. You can step into water that’s over your head right next to the bank. Talk with children about river currents and ocean riptides to help them develop awareness of and respect for these dangers. Babies, toddlers and young children should always be supervised around water, including bathtubs and wading pools.
Water safety awareness starts in the bathtub when babies are able to sit independently. Even when they’re pre-verbal, talk about why you are staying close, and the importance of your child staying seated and having good-listening ears.
When it’s time for actual swimming, babies, toddlers and young children should always be supervised, whether it’s in a shallow baby pool in the backyard, an above-ground or in-ground pool, a swimming area in a park or at the beach. Choose a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for your child and avoid “swimmies” that offer children a false sense of security or a perceived ability to swim. When possible, seek out swimming lessons -- check your local recreation department, the YMCA or local state parks.
The northeastern U.S. is prime habitat for Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks. You can pick a tick up just about anywhere but be especially mindful if you walk through or spend time in a field or the woods. Choose long pants and long sleeves in light colors so ticks can’t reach your skin and are easily visible for removal from clothes.
You can buy the tick-repellent chemical permethrin as a concentrated liquid and treat your outdoor clothing for additional protection. Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks every evening when coming inside. Remove any attached ticks right away or seek medical attention if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself.
If you do find one attached, the sooner you remove it, the better. If a tick is attached for more than 24 hours, call your primary care provider for guidance. Lyme disease is a serious illness, and prompt removal of a tick reduces your risk of contracting it.
There’s something about summer—from the warm weather to the longer days to the opportunities to meet up with friends and family—that just brings out the zest for life in all of us. So, by thinking safety first and foremost, you’ll be able to embrace all of the rest, relaxation and recreation these months have in store for you! For more information or if you have any follow-up questions about safety for your child, you can call UHS Pediatrics or head to NYUHS.org for more information about preventative health and steps you can take to avoid illness and injury.