1) Be Mindful When You Mow.
Mowing the lawn is a common summertime activity, but lawnmowers cause 20,000 injuries in the U.S. every year, and they’re the leading cause of amputations in children. So it’s important to exercise extreme caution to keep your kids safe while you’re mowing. Make sure you clear the lawn of any sticks or rocks before you mow, and make sure your children are at a safe distance while you’re mowing. It’s also important to emphasize to children that even though mowers may look fun to use (especially riding mowers!), they’re dangerous machines, not toys.
2) Swim Safely.
Swimming at the pool or enjoying a day at the beach is popular summertime activities. Unfortunately, there are more than 3,500 drowning deaths every year in the U.S. – which means on average, ten people die every day in drowning accidents. Twenty percent of drowning victims are children ages 14 and under.
Make sure you supervise your children while they’re swimming, sign them up for swimming lessons, make sure they’re wearing flotation devices if they’re young swimmers, and make sure everyone’s wearing a life jacket when they’re engaging in boating or other water activities.
3) Encourage Hydration.
When your kids are having fun outside in the warm weather, the last thing they want to do is stop playing to take a water break. But it’s important to remember that children get dehydrated faster than adults because their small bodies contain lower reserves of fluid than adults’ do. So encourage your kids to take frequent sips of water while they’re outdoors. A helpful rule of thumb is to make sure your child is urinating every 4-6 hours.
It’s also important to seek urgent medical attention if your child develops signs of dehydration – including sunken eyes, flushed skin, dry mouth, lack of tears when crying, infrequent urination, and lethargy.
4) Apply (and Reapply!) Sunscreen.
More cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year than all other forms of cancer combined. Exposure to U.V. rays accounts for 90% of skin cancers, and people who sustain more than five sunburns in their lifetime double their risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
The good news is that using a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 every day decreases your risk of skin cancer by a whopping 50%!
Make sure to apply sunscreen on your little ones before letting them go outside and remember to reapply sunscreen every few hours if you’re spending an extended amount of time outdoors, and after your kids have played in the water. Be mindful of other symptoms because it can be more than just a sun rash. During spring and summer, the disease hand, foot, and mouth is also known as HFM will give a distinct rash after a fever begins.
5) Don’t Drink and Drive (or Boat).
Whether it’s at a backyard barbecue or an outdoor dinner party or a family vacation, lots of parents treat themselves to "adult beverages" during the summer months. While enjoying a drink or two can be a fun summer activity, it’s important for parents to make responsible choices about alcohol for their kids’ sake. Sadly, one in five child passenger deaths occurs because of an intoxicated driver – and most often it’s the driver of the car the child is riding in. So never drive a motor vehicle or operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
6) Monitor Food Temperature.
Grilled meats and mayonnaise-based salads are staples of many summer meals. But 48 million people are sickened from foodborne illnesses every year in the U.S., so it’s imperative to make sure you monitor the temperature of the food you’re serving your kids. Make sure meat is cooked to the recommended temperature, and don’t leave perishable food sitting out for more than two hours (and no longer than one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees).
7) Leave Fireworks to the Professionals.
There are more than 10,000 firework injuries in the U.S. each year, with more accidents occurring in June and July than any other time of year. Sparklers and illegal fireworks account for the majority of these injuries. Since less than 1% of firework injuries happen at public firework displays, it’s safer to leave fireworks to the professionals to keep you and your kids safe.
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Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant