Important safety tips to ensure a healthy and fun summer

August 15, 2016

From hazards at the beach such as sharp shells and jellyfish to backyard dangers like beehives and diving boards, there are plenty of ways for kids to get hurt during school vacation. Fortunately, as a parent, you have the power to reduce your children's risk of injury by taking preventative measures and staying alert. Here are some important seasonal safety tips to ensure a healthy and fun summer for your family:

1. Invest in proper footwear
Little feet grow like weeds and it's tempting to purchase plastic thong sandals from the $1.99 clearance bin to save a few bucks. However, wearing flimsy footwear could seriously harm your child. Flip flops and other open-toe sandals don't offer active tots the support and protection they need when running on the pavement or through the sprinkler on wet grass. The risk of injury increases when these shoes are worn while riding a bicycle or scooter, advises Children's MD. From scraped knees and elbows to broken bones and head injuries, the repercussions can be great. Trade the flip flops for "bump-toe" sandals, which offer both toe protection and a sturdy platform to lessen the chance of a slip or fall. Also, they can be worn to the beach in lieu of water shoes, protecting tiny toes from jagged shells or other sharp objects.

Bump-toe sandals offer protection from hazards as well as a sturdy platform  to reduce the risk of injury.Bump-toe sandals offer protection from hazards as well as a sturdy platform to reduce the risk of injury.

2. Avoid swimming in unsafe waters
Although your children are probably blissfully unaware as they splash about in shallow waters, the ocean is teeming with creatures that could bite or sting them with little provocation. According to Smithsonian magazine, jellyfish tentacles are lined with cells containing nematocysts that are filled with venom; these structures shoot out like harpoons once touched and can cause extreme pain upon puncturing human skin. Before plunging into the sea, teach your kids to scan for jellyfish and avoid infested areas. If the area is known for jellyfish, swimmers should wear wetsuits for protection and parents should carry an oral antihistamine in case of allergic reaction. Finally, children should be instructed not to pick up dead jellies as their carcasses could contain live stinging cells that function long after the marine animal has passed on. 

If you live near the ocean and visit the beach you'll also need to educate your children about rip currents, otherwise known as "rip tides." These strong bands of water can trap swimmers, pulling them under and out to sea. While the typical instinctual reaction is to swim toward shore, doing so can actually do more harm than good. Here are some tips on surviving a rip tide:

  • Attempt to stand up. If a child is in shallow water and the current isn't too strong, this simple action might be all it takes for him or her to get free.
  • Swim parallel to the shore. Most people swim toward shore, but doing so is akin to walking up a down escalator and is a fruitless attempt that will only tire the body out.
  • Stay as calm as possible. To conserve energy, it's important that children don't panic. It's a good idea to have kids practice the techniques in advance to build their confidence.
Parents should teach children about rip tide survival prior to visiting the beach.Parents should teach children about rip tide survival prior to visiting the beach.

3. Prevent bites and stings
Ticks can spread diseases so it's a wise idea to take precautions to help your children avoid being bitten - particularly during warmer months when the arachnids are most active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tickborne diseases vary, but commonly see symptoms of fever and chills, aches and pains and rashes. The discomfort can range from mild to severe, with some people requiring hospitalization to treat infection. Children should be instructed to avoid walking through tall grass and brushy areas where ticks tend to hide. The CDC recommends that clothing be treated with a repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET or permethrin, as both substances act as repellents. Finally, it's crucial that parents examine their children for ticks upon returning to the home from an infested area. Areas to check include armpits, neck, ears, belly button, knees, between the legs, waist and hair. Preferably children should shower or bathe shortly after coming indoors. 

Bee stings are another common threat that - while merely annoying to most - can be life-threatening to those who have allergies. According to the Mayo Clinic, a severe allergic reaction, or "anaphylaxis," can include any of the following: skin reactions (hives, rash, flushed or pale skin), difficulty breathing, throat and tongue swelling, weak pulse, rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting and loss of consciousness. It's important to act fast if your child is stung and experiences any of the aforementioned symptoms. Call 911 - even if the victim is experiencing just one or two symptoms. Children who have experienced prior anaphylaxis should never leave the house without their prescribed emergency epinephrine autoinjector.

4. Don't fall victim to dehydration
Hot temps can lead to dehydration due to excessive sweating. Children must constantly replenish their systems by drinking, otherwise they could experience heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Unfortunately, many children don't always realize they're thirsty until dehydration has already set in. Other kids might be hesitant to stop playing a fun game in order to seek out a drink. Parents can help combat both obstacles to health by sending their little ones out to play with water in hand. Serve the thirst-quenching concoction in a fun bottle that they'll love carrying along from campground to playground. These purified water and organic juice beverages have spill-proof character tops that will be sure to put a smile on your little one's face and encourage them to drink regularly and often.

With a bit of education and preparation, you can confidently send your kids out this season knowing they're equipped to overcome any warm weather threat that comes their way. Here's to a wonderful and safe summer!

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