Top Summer Safety Reminders
By Brenda Nixon
Summertime: the inviting warmth of the sun, fresh air, the aroma of barbeques, fresh-cut grass and chaotic sounds of neighborhood children at play. But dangerous possibilities lurk outside. Parents must never presume their youngster recognizes — or stops to think about — what is safe and unsafe.
Curious toddlers put everything in their mouth, move at the speed of light and are innocent about hazards. Older children race, jump and jostle with no thought of consequences. Child development experts tell us that children can not grasp the permanence of death until the age of 11.
To ensure your family has fun in the sun with minimal injury, be responsible, vigilant and safety-conscious. Here are some tips that might save tears, emergency room bills ... or lives.
Prevent ouches. Summer sun can heat your car's interior to 140 degrees. That's enough to blister young skin. Feel seats and buckles before loading kids in the car. Many parents store beach towels in their car to make a layer between their child's legs and a sizzling seat.
Habitually hydrate. Always have cool water with you, and offer it to your children about every half hour. Avoid beverages with sugar and caffeine; they don't quench thirst and are filled with unnecessary calories.
Be sun smart. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Practice safe sun fun. Use a SPF 15 sunscreen, even on cloudy days. If you're outdoors with a newborn (0 to 6 weeks) do not use sunscreen on her delicate skin. Instead, protect her from the sun with a bonnet, sunglasses and lightweight cotton clothing. An umbrella can also help by creating shade. I've been to many softball games where resourceful parents positioned their newborn under a shady tree to prevent strong exposure while they enjoyed the sport.
Think outside the box. Check in and around sandboxes for sticks, glass or droppings from friendly creatures. Children may find your yard, driveway, garage and park an inviting place to play. Scour and clean up anyplace your kids play for hidden dangers.
Deter drowning. Always be on guard when your child is around contained water sources: buckets of water, toilets, pools and ponds. Toddlers are top-heavy, so they easily fall headfirst into pools, fountains and buckets. If they can't maneuver their head out to breath, even an inch of water will be deadly. It only takes five minutes for a child to drown.
Avoid playground problems. Remove strings from hoods and around the waist of your kids' clothes to prevent catching on equipment and possible strangulation. Look for rusted nuts, bolts, screws and cracks or rotted wood on playground equipment. Guard against the open S-style hooks that can scratch skin or snag clothes. Each year nearly 200,000 children go to the emergency room for playground equipment-related injuries. Keep antibiotic cream available for minor skin abrasions.
Forego fireworks. Most children eventually beg, "Can we have sparklers?" And many adults buy them thinking, "There's no harm." However, these thin sticks of highlighted sparks burn at 1,800 degrees, melt nylon clothing (I know this from experience), can cause severe skin wounds and start fires. Pyrotechnics, including sparklers, injure over 5,000 young children every year. Enjoy professionally run fireworks and say "no" to shooting them off at home, where most accidents happen.
Diminish dog bites. Dogs are kid-magnets. When we walk in the park with our miniature dachshund, children bravely run up to pet him. Usually I halt each child with, "Ask if you can pet him." Every year children suffer bites from dogs that "look cute." Teach your tot to ask permission to touch someone's dog. Be watchful around animals and never assume they "won't hurt a flea."
Youngsters are more occupied with adventure than safety. Their endless energy and naiveté means parents must practice safety first. Then everyone has fun, happy memories in the great outdoors.
© Brenda Nixon, from Parenting Power in The Early Years
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Parenting Power in the Early Years is just that--the confidence resource for all who find themselves raising a newborn to kindergartner! Covering from how to be a successful parent, when to start solid foods, when to begin toilet teaching, and how to handle tantrums or biting, to knowing if a child is ready for kindergarten, speaker and author Brenda Nixon offers quick, practical guidance. The "0-5 Child Development Guide" and "Gift-Giving Key" make Parenting Power in the Early Years a valuable handbook for parents, grandparents, childcare providers, counselors, or anyone who works with parents of young children.