By: Jolene Roehlkepartain
As the weather gets warmer, kids and families like to spend more time outdoors. Keep your children safe from the many dangers that lurk outside by trying these 10 tips.
1. Watch out for water. Young children can drown in only a few inches of water (and quickly). Always supervise children around water, including children and teenagers who are adept at swimming. (Encourage teenagers to keep an eye on each other.) If possible, give each one of your kids swimming instructions so they can learn how to swim and how to keep themselves safe in water.
2.Teach kids not to eat plants. It can be confusing for kids if you have a vegetable garden or you grow fruit. They may assume that any growing plant that looks delicious can be sampled. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, plants are the leading cause of poisoning for preschoolers.
3. Keep young kids inside when you mow the lawn. Lawn mowers can kick up rocks, sticks, and other debris, which can seriously injure a young child.
4. Encourage kids not to pet animals they don’t know. Even an overly friendly dog can injure a child. Teach kids not to put their faces close to any animal and to greet a dog in a safe way by standing still while the dog sniffs the child. After the sniffing, the child can then slowly reach out his or her hand to pet the dog.
5. Use sunscreen. Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Even waterproof sunscreens need to be reapplied every three to four hours.
6. Keep kids hydrated. As the weather gets warmer, kids (and adults) are more at risk for fainting and heat stroke if they’re not drinking enough water. (Athletes are particularly at risk.) Kids need to drink even more water if they’re out in the sun.
7. Protect kids from insect bites. Some kids are highly sensitive to bug bites (or bee stings). Have calamine lotion and antihistamine lotions available. Use insect repellents sparingly since infants and young children can get sick from the repellent. If you use a repellent, make sure the concentration of DEET (which is the most effective ingredient in insect repellents) is no more than 10 percent.
8. Keep kids safe in cars. Make sure kids wear seatbelts whenever they ride in (or drive) a car. Follow the safety guidelines for car seats. With teen drivers, make sure they’re not using a cell phone or texting while driving.
9. Protect kids on bikes, trikes, and skateboards. Kids love to move, so keep them safe whenever they’re using a bike, trike, skateboard, or anything else with wheels. Have them wear a helmet and other safety gear (particularly if they like to do stunts on skateboards).
10. Make safety an important aspect—but not the only aspect—of being outside. Kids want to have fun outside. They don’t want a long list of rules or a nagging parent who doesn’t let up. Help kids be safe while also allowing them to enjoy the out of doors.
Keeping our kids safe is paramount for them to grow up well. Yes, accidents and slip-ups will happen, but the more we can protect our kids, the more likely they’ll stay safe._________________________________________________________________________
1. American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (New York: Bantam, 1998).
2. Photo via Fort Rucker on Flick'r