School is almost out and summer fun is in! Let the good times roll-but not without a few safety reminders first.
More unintentional childhood deaths and injuries occur during the summer than in any other time of the year. The following safety tips will help ensure a fun and safe summer for you and your family.
Swim, Swim, Swim!
Swimming, a favorite summer activity for children of all ages, can also be one of the most dangerous if certain precautions and supervision aren't included. Drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children under 14 years of age. Drowning can occur within seconds.
- Never leave children alone in or near water.
- Enroll young children in certified swimming and water safety lessons when age appropriate.
- Never assume your child is "drown-proof." Even after taking swim lessons, your child should always be supervised by an adult when swimming.
- Make sure pools are secure with covers, fences, self-closing gates and locking devices.
- Adults and children over 13 years of age should learn CPR and first aid.
- Beware of hazards when swimming or playing in oceans and lakes. Educate your family about undercurrents and the changing nature of waves. Set swim boundaries. Always supervise your children when in or near bodies of water.
More children are out of school and out on the streets during summer. Parents should review smart biking guidelines with their kids before the summer season starts. Bicycles remain associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except for the automobile. Kids who follow traffic safety and wear appropriate safety equipment can enjoy a fun summer of safe cycling.
- Purchase an approved bicycle helmet for your child. Let him select his own color and design to ensure he likes it.
- Inspect the bike for faults. Most local bike shops provide inspections.
- Teach children safe bicycling behaviors, including following traffic signs and rules.
- Check with safety organizations about bike safety events for your child to attend.
- Know where your child bikes. Off-road trails and unexplored routes should be checked out by mom and dad first.
Bladin' & Boardin'
Rollerblading and skateboarding can be fun for all ages if the appropriate protective gear is used. Parents should always purchase protective gear when purchasing sports equipment like roller blades, skateboards and bicycles.
- Purchase approved protective gear, such as a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, etc.
- Blade or board on smooth, safe surfaces such as sidewalks.
- Stay off streets to avoid cars.
- Stay in control around others.
Know Your Neighborhood
With more children enjoying the outdoors in the summer, parents need to be aware of their play areas. Playgrounds, parks and even friends' yards should be explored by parents.
- Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood play areas.
- Warn children about dangerous or unacceptable play areas where play equipment looks damaged, rusted or dangerous. Look for unsafe terrain like gravel or rocks, as well as water drains, wells or other potential hazards.
- Teach your children the rules of pedestrian safety to ensure safe travelling to their play areas.
- Review stranger dangers with your child. Know where your child is playing and with whom he is playing at all times.
Fun in the Sun
Those lazy, hazy days of summer can fool sensitive skin. You can still get a sunburn on cloudy days and should take sun safety into consideration when gearing up for a safe summer.
- The sun's rays are strongest between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Make sure children wear waterproof sunscreen of at least SPF 15.
- Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out into the sun and reapply frequently throughout the day.
- Dress children in light-colored clothing that covers exposed areas of skin. Encourage your child to wear his or her favorite hat to effectively shade the head and face.
- Prevent dehydration by giving your child large amounts of liquids before and during play. Water is always the best choice.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Remember the summer season is vacation time for many families. Practice safe travel habits to avoid injuries in the car or plane.
- Always buckle up in the car. Whether your child is in a car seat or safety belt, be sure he is properly buckled in even on short trips in the car. For age appropriate car seat guidelines, contact Safe Kids Tulsa at 918-494-SAFE.
- Do not transport more children than you have car seats and safety belts in your car.
- When traveling by plane, let the airline know in advance that you are traveling with a small child. Follow the airline's safety guidelines for car seats and seatbelts while on the plane.
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle.
Every year, nearly two dozen children in the United States drown after falling out of boats, and approximately 200 children are seriously injured or killed while riding personal watercraft such as jet skis. Most children who drown are not wearing personal flotation devices (life jackets), and an estimated 85 percent of boating-related drownings could have been prevented by personal floatation devices (PFDs).
SAFE KIDS Tulsa recommends the following to help prevent these tragedies from occurring:
- Children ages 14 and under wear PFDs not only on boats, but near open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Oklahoma law requires children ages 12 and under to wear PFDs while boating, and children under 14 are required to wear PFDs on any recreational vessel in waters under Coast Guard jurisdiction.
- Parents and caregivers should wear PFDs on boats or other watercraft. According to a 2005 study by the Safe Kids Worldwide, children are much more likely to practice safe habits when they witness similar behavior by parents and caregivers.
- Even with a PFD, certain activities on the water are still unsafe for children ages 16 and under. Don't let kids operate personal watercraft. Oklahoma law now requires education for all operators under age 16.
- Do enroll your kids in swimming lessons taught by a certified instructor, but don't assume swimming lessons or PFDs make your child "drownproof." These precautions are important, but they're no substitute for constant adult supervision.
- Nobody should swim near a dock or marina with electrical hookups or lighting - swimmers can be electrocuted in the water and drown.
- Make sure the skipper or pilot of the boat your child is on has passed a boating safety course approved by the Coast Guard. For more information about safe boat operations, contact the local Coast Guard Auxiliary at www.uscgboating.org.
- Learn CPR. In less than three hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child who has fallen into water and become unconscious. Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.
And, finally, utilize the Water Watcher Program to designate an adult to literally watch and be responsible for the safety of all of the children in or around the water - from the moment the children arrive at the lake to the moment they leave to go home.
More safety sites
You can refer to the following sites for more childhood injury prevention all year long:
National Safe Kids Campaign
American Academy of Pediatrics (TIPP: The Injury Prevention Program)
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control