Summer is a busy time for families, as kids want to play outdoors and hang out with friends. It’s important to take the time to prepare your little ones to be safe while they are having fun outside. Many accidents and hazards can be avoided if families are properly prepared, so take time this summer to help your kids stay safe without sacrificing fun. Check out these easy safety tips:
Bike Accident – Equip the kids with a properly fitted bike helmet, elbow pads, and kneepads. The helmet will protect your child’s head in case there is a collision, and the knee and elbow pads will minimize road rash and added pain in the event of a sliding accident. Make sure your child is also riding a bike that is appropriate for his size. Take your kids’ bikes to a reputable bike shop at the beginning of summer for a proper fitting to ensure the tires are inflated, brakes are in good working condition, and the chain is tight. Dress your kids in reflective clothing to make sure drivers see them. If your kids ride their bikes around dusk, be sure to equip their bikes with reflectors and lights. Instruct them to always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars to be in full control of where the bike is headed. Quiz them on traffic laws and hand signals before you let them ride in traffic. Make sure they are aware of their surroundings before making a turn and be on the lookout for cars pulling out of driveways into traffic.
Sunburn – The sun is most powerful between 10am and 4pm, so try to avoid having the kids play in direct sunlight during those hours. Look for shady areas to keep them occupied and apply ample amounts of waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 50+ to prevent sunburn. If your child has fair skin, include a hat for the warmest part of the day. Reapply sunscreen as needed, especially if the kids are playing in the pool. Take breaks playing in and out of the sun, and have plenty of water on hand to keep them hydrated.
Playground – Never let the kids play unattended, as they often think they are invincible with superpowers and exempt from falling. Spot them when climbing on the jungle gym or on the rock wall, as kids are more cautious when parents are supervising nearby. Choose a play area that has shock-absorbing material like mulch, pea gravel, or rubber to minimize the impact of falls. Be mindful of kids in different age groups and, if possible, separate toddlers from school age kids to minimize accidents. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid playing on broken equipment or near debris that could cause a fall.
Sports Injury – Kids love sports and competing, but being overzealous on the field can cause accidents. Using fair play tactics to call “mine” will help avoid colliding with a teammate on the field. Following established rules and wearing protective gear will also reduce sport-related injuries. Make sure kids take the time to warm up and cool down after engaging in sport activities.
Stray Pets – Stray animals can carry diseases like rabies, so even though they may look fine, it can be dangerous to let kids play with stray animals they come into contact with. When kids see an animal they don’t know, they should avoid eye contact and move cautiously. Parents should also position themselves between the animal and their child to prevent bites.
Poison Ivy / Poison Oak / Poison Sumac – Allergic reactions to the natural oils in these plants can cause high levels of discomfort. Be aware of what these leaves look like in nature and avoid contact with them. Dress in long pants and shirts with long sleeves when out hiking. Also stay on well-groomed trails and avoid wandering off the beaten path. If you do come into contact with urushiol, the oil from the plants, use Tecnu Original or Tecnu Extreme cleanser within the first 8 hours to relieve symptoms and clean infected clothing like boots and gloves. Wash infected clothing several times in hot water before wearing again to avoid re-infecting your skin.
Bug Bites – Outdoor play in the summer presents its own set of challenges, especially if you live in a humid climate. Mosquito, tick, and chigger bites can be annoying and cause other health issues if not treated property. Use an insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET and cover legs and arms when possible to minimize skin surface area for the insects to bite. Apply sunscreen first, then apply insect repellent and make sure to reapply every few hours. Avoid playing in wooded and brushy areas with high grasses and leaves. When hiking, make sure to stay on the trail to minimize risk.
Taking the time to prepare your kids for safe play this summer will prevent accidents and injuries. Make summer safe by planning activities for the entire family to participate in. Be smart and set boundaries to keep everyone safe and maximize summertime fun.
Miriam Sonenschein is the marketing coordinator at RubberMulch, which manufactures top quality rubber surfacing products for playgrounds, residences, and commercial markets. A pioneer of the tire recycling industry, RubberMulch utilizes the most advanced technology and equipment to process scrap tires. Living in Brick, NJ. with her three super-active sons and one daughter, Miriam is a veteran of every local playground and is all too familiar with the myriad safety concerns and potential hazards on the playground turf. www.RubberMulch.com