Summer Safety Tips
By Christine Climer
Every July, my kids head out for a week long adventure at Gran and Poppy’s family farm. Their visit is jam-packed with all the goodies a kid could ever want: barbecues, fireworks, swimming, hiking, boating and more. While I’m thrilled they get to enjoy all these activities, I also know that serious injuries can occur if proper safety precautions aren’t taken.
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, an estimated 2,300 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for pool submersion injuries during the summer of 2004 and each year over 8,000 people are injured using fireworks.
So whether your family will be boating out on the lake or enjoying fireworks or just hanging out at home this summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers these summertime safety tips to keep your family out of the emergency room:
• Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.
• Fireworks that are often thought to be safe (like sparklers) can reach temperatures above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn users and bystanders.
• The AAP encourages parents to attend professional fireworks displays instead of using fireworks at home.
• Even good swimmers need buddies. Make sure your child knows never to swim alone.
• A lifeguard or another adult (preferably one who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children at all times.
• Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
• Never let your child swim in canals or any fast-moving water.
• Ocean swimming should be allowed only when a lifeguard is on duty.
• Younger children should be closely supervised while in the water. Use "touch supervision," keeping no more than an arm's length away.
• Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.
• Install a fence at least four feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under or through.
• Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can't reach.
• Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd's hook — a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool.
• Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as "floaties." They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.
• Children may not be developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their fourth birthday. Swim programs for children under 4 should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.
• Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
• Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
• Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should never be used as life jackets or life preservers.
• Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection and to set a good example.
Lawn Mower Safety
• Try to use a mower with a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is let go.
• Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
• Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
• Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
• Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
• Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
• Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.
• Off-road vehicles are particularly dangerous for children younger than 16 years, who may have immature judgment and motor skills. Children who are not licensed to drive a car should not be allowed to operate off-road vehicles.
• Injuries frequently occur to passengers; therefore, riding double should not be permitted.
• All riders should wear helmets, eye protection and protective reflective clothing. Appropriate helmets are those designed for motorcycle (not bicycle) use and should include safety visors/face shields for eye protection.
• Parents should never permit the street use of off-road vehicles, and nighttime riding should not be allowed.
• Flags, reflectors and lights should be used to make vehicles more visible.
• Drivers of recreational vehicles should not drive after drinking alcohol. Parents should set an example for their children in this regard.
• Young drivers should be discouraged from on-road riding of any two-wheeled motorized cycle, even when they are able to be licensed to do so, because they are inherently more dangerous than passenger cars.
For more summer safety tips, visit the CPSC’s library: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/pub_idx.html
© Christine Climer