The Definitive Guide to Summer Safety

Summer is in full swing here on the East Coast and everyone is enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. While summer brings with it many great activities such as boating, swimming, grilling, and hiking; it also brings tons of potential dangers to your family. Did you know that 40 percent of all injury-related emergency room visits and 42 percent of all injury-related deaths happen between May and August? Nothing ruins a great vacation or family outing like a trip to the emergency room. However by taking a few precautions, like the ones described below, you can be certain to reduce your chances of an accident or injury as just about all of these injuries are preventable.

reading at beach

Sun Safety:

  • According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn as a child doubles your chances of developing melanoma later in life. Regardless of age and skin type (whether or not you burn easily), it is recommended that you choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.  For more information about how effective your sunscreen is, check out
  • The CDC estimates that about 400 people die every year from heat-related illness. Mild symptoms of heat exhaustion may include feeling thirsty, fatigue and cramps (legs or abdominal). If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke. Heatstroke is a much more serious condition and can be fatal. Symptoms may include any of the following: dizziness, trouble breathing, headaches, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, confusion and changes in blood pressure. Skin may be flushed and feel hot and dry (not sweaty). Kids are more susceptible to heat illnesses than adults are because their central nervous system is not yet fully developed. Staying well hydrated in hot weather can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Keep water or sports drinks (with electrolytes) on hand to maintain hydration.

water safety

Water Safety:

  • Secondary drowning has recently been a hot topic for discussion among parents due to an increase in recent incidents. Secondary drowning happens when you breathe in water instead of swallowing water.  It typically happens within 8 hours and within 24 to 48 hours, you’re in the clear.  Secondary drowning is survivable if you get help at the first sight of the warning signs. Coughing, difficulty breathing, breathing fast, listlessness, and sudden mood swings are the primary symptoms. The symptoms typically resemble a bad asthma attack or other severe respiratory illness.
  • Heading to the beach soon? When going in for a swim, be alert to the signs of rip currents. Don’t get dragged out to sea! Here’s a great VIDEO that puts it all in your visual perspective and gives you a couple easy tips on how to break the grip of the current and escape: first line of defense is to read the surf forecast BEFORE you head to the beach. NOAA’s National Weather Service is your first stop for this critical safety information: Remember your chances of surviving a rip current, or any other beach-related hazard, are greatly increased if you’re swimming off a beach staffed by lifeguards.
  • It should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway: Never leave kids alone near the pool, no matter what their ages or swim capabilities are. Parents can and should take precautions around home pools, in addition to closely supervising kids while they swim. Installing fencing around pools, at least 5-feet high, all the way around and with a self-closing, self-latching gate, can prevent 50 to 90 percent of accidental drowning incidents. Pool and gate alarms, they alert you to when the pool water becomes agitated and when the gate is opened, add another layer of protection. It is a good idea to practice “touch supervision” (a term used by the American Academy of Pediatrics). This means that at all times, the supervising adult is within an arm’s length of the child being watched, when near or in the water.


Parks & Camping Safety:

  • Poison Ivy, as well as poison oak and sumac, contains an oil called Urushiol, which when it comes in contact with skin, causes an allergic reaction in about 85 percent of the population. The subsequent rash that develops will only appear where the skin came in contact with the plant’s oil, and luckily, it isn’t contagious, but it can spread through indirect contact (such as petting a dog that has run through poisonous plants). Symptoms of a poison ivy rash may include: itchy skin, redness or red streaks, small bumps or hives, and blisters that drain fluid when popped. The only way to avoid developing the rash is to avoid contact with these poisonous plants, but wearing clothing that covers a good amount of skin will help reduce your risk. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends home treatment for mild cases, including cool showers and oatmeal baths. If itching and swelling become moderate to severe, prescription medications can be used to reduce symptoms.
  • Planning to spend time outside means planning to spray yourself and your kids with insect repellent, repellents don’t kill insects, but they can help reduce bites from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other pesky bugs. There are different types of repellents: those that contain Deet and those that don’t. Use insect repellents containing Deet on kids sparingly. Never use repellent on infants and check the levels of Deet in formulas before applying to older kids, since Deet can be toxic. Repellents with 10 to 30 percent concentrations of Deet can be used on exposed skin, clothing, and shoes but do not apply it to faces or hands. If someone is allergic to stings , you should make sure you carry plenty of EpiPens and be prepared to call 9-1-1. In the event of an allergic reaction, remove any tight-fitting jewelry (bracelets, rings, watches). Any excess swelling could make them hard to get off. Don’t pinch the stinger itself, as that can inject more venom. Instead, scrape the area with your fingernail or a razor blade (gently!) until the stinger comes out or use tweezers to remove it. To reduce the swelling, ice the area if possible. If you’ve been stung on your arm or leg, elevate it. To treat the pain, plain old OTC acetaminophen or ibuprofen works well, but if there’s itchiness, you may need an antihistamine, too.
  • Outdoorsy types aren’t the only ones who need to worry about ticks! You could pick one up in your own yard while gardening or playing outside. To prevent tick bites, wear light-colored clothing and shoes during the summertime because they help keep you cooler, and, as it turns out, they help you spot any ticks that may be crawling on you. Also, although you may receive a ticket from the Fashion Police, tucking your pant legs into your socks can help minimize ticks crawling up your legs or into your shoes. Ticks like to hang out in grassy or wooded areas, and they are especially fond of places that are moist or humid. Do a tick check on everyone in the family every night. Contracting a tick-borne illness can take up to 36 hours if a tick isn’t removed, so you want to be prompt and thorough. The CDC recommends you check under the arms, between the legs, around the waist, inside the navel, and don’t forget the hairline and scalp. For information regarding the best ways to remove a tick click here



Sports & Activities Safety: 

  • Teach kids to always ride in the same direction as the traffic flow, and to obey all traffic signs. Nearly 300,000 kids make a visit to the emergency room every year with bike-related injuries, some resulting in death or severe brain injury. Wearing a helmet can help reduce your child’s risk of making such a visit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sets standards for helmets, so be sure to choose one with its safety seal on it. Keeping kids safe on their bikes also means sending them out on bikes that fit. Checking that your child hasn’t outgrown last year’s ride is easy: Have your child straddle the top bar of his or her bike with both feet flat on the ground. A 1 to 3-inch gap between the bar and your child’s body means it’s still the correct size.

What are some of your best safety tips? Feel free to comment below!


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