The sun is shining and your little ones are begging to go outside, but as a nanny or parent you may have some concerns or reservations about their safety during the summer months. From sun poisoning and bike accidents to water safety and bug bites, fun in the sun can bring about dangers for your children.
However, with some simple strategies to ensure their safety, you can provide your children with a safe and fun summer.
Establish Smart Rules
It’s important when parents and nannies are talking about safety to do just that – emphasize smart rules for your children to follow to keep them safe, rather than focusing on risk or danger, says Tamar Chansky, founder and director of the Children’s and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety in Pennsylvania and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: Four Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want.
“Rather than just telling your kids the rules, help them to process that information more deeply by asking them: ‘Why do you think it’s important to walk at the pool, not run?’ ‘Why is it important to wear shoes when you go outside?’ and ‘Why do you stay with your family when you’re at the pool?’” she says. “Most likely, kids have some good answers and you can reinforce them for that, but if they need help clarifying the information, this way you know what they’re thinking about.”
Chansky also suggests reinforcing the rules further by having your child tell another child or adult the safety rules before going into a situation. “Not only will you feel reassured that they know what to do to be safe, they will also feel proud and competent that they know the rules,” she says. “It’s a win-win.”
Prevent the Risk
Taking necessary safety precautions during the summer can also help guide your child in a safe and fun direction as she heads off on her bike or to the playground. According to Jennifer Hoekstra, an injury and prevention specialist and Safe Kids Program Coordinator at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, common summer safety dangers include bike, pedestrian, playground and water injuries.
To keep your children safe, consider the following safety precautions Hoekstra recommends:
- Bikes: Kids should always wear a properly fitted helmet, ride on sidewalks and bike paths with an adult and wear bright colored clothing and closed toe shoes.
- In and Around Vehicles: Kids should never be left alone in a vehicle. “In just 10 minutes, the temperature rises 15 degrees inside the car,” says Hoekstra. “Heatstroke or hyperthermia is a life threatening condition where the child’s temperature rises more than 104 degrees.”
- Pedestrian Guidelines: Teach children to look left, right and then left again before they cross the street. Always use crosswalks or cross at the corner, says Hoekstra. Avoid distractions and limit your children from talking on the phone or texting while crossing the street. It is also important to wear bright and reflective clothing while walking.
- Playground Safety: Teach your children to always go down the slide feet first and one at a time. Be sure kids are playing on age appropriate equipment and check the playground for broken, unsafe equipment or overheated equipment before letting your children play. Make sure the area under the monkey bars is clear of debris and other children before letting your children cross.
- Water Play: Teach kids to never swim alone and as a parent or nanny, stay within arms reach of children who do not swim well. Once the water play is complete, empty all buckets and inflatable pools.
“Active supervision is key all year long, but enjoy summer activities with your children and help them understand ways to keep themselves safe,” says Hoekstra.
Enjoy the Temps with Caution
When the sun is shining, your children are at a greater risk for sun burns and over exposure to the elements. As summer officially kicks off, Registered Nurse Laura Holihan, with the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, recommends reducing the burn and ensuring the season is fun for everyone by knowing the basics of sun safety.
“Protective clothing, a hat with a broad brim and sunglasses will help people keep cool and protect skin from dangerous UV rays, especially during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” says Holihan. “To avoid sunburn, the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen should be applied to the body and reapplied about every two hours, especially after swimming or playing outdoors.”
For best results, Holihan recommends a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
It’s also crucial for your child to stay hydrated during the summer months. “Staying hydrated should be on everyone’s mind all year round, but as the summer sun beats down and the temperature rises, it’s more important than ever,” she says. “Caregivers should send children to any sporting activity with a water bottle and make sure they keep it filled while participating in activities.”
Keeping your child aware of smart rules, summer safety guidelines and strategies to stay hydrated will only enhance the season of summer this year.