While many school-aged kids are screaming, “SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE!” some adults are fraught with additional angst during this warmer time of the year. Aside from frightening headlines about people who neglect children inside hot vehicles during summer months, there are many lesser-known dangers that can occur when temperatures begin to rise.
As responsible parents, we already know better than to let our kids play outdoors without sunscreen and sunglasses, and we monitor them closely while swimming. But what about other ways we can protect our kids when the mercury begins filling up the thermometer?
An accident or illness can really put a damper on summer fun, and can be frightening for both you and your child. The good news is that with a little planning and prevention, you can protect and keep your children safe without making them stay inside all season.
Let’s take a look at these eight situations, and how we can help safeguard our children from potential harm this summer:
#1 – END OF DROUGHT DANGERS
When many of us were children, our parents may have warned us to wait at least one hour after eating before going swimming to avoid cramps. While this has largely been proven a myth over the years, there are still plenty of dangers found in and around our nation’s waterways. Families often flock to lakes, rivers, and the ocean to cool off from the sting of summer’s heat, but the end of drought conditions in many parts of the United States has brought unseen hazards to some of these popular venues.
For example, after many years of drought places like California have experienced record-breaking rainfall and snow levels this past year. While this sounds fantastic for the Golden State’s lakes and rivers, it presents possible threats to those looking to enjoy these outlets come summertime including:
- Colder than normal water temperatures that could cause hypothermia
- Much faster than average currents in the water that could easily sweep a child away
- Unexpected rocks and debris that have moved and/or become uncovered after powerful storms
No matter how often you’ve visited your favorite watering hole in the past, be sure to inspect the underwater area thoroughly before allowing your child to take the plunge. Even if your child is a strong swimmer, be sure they have protection from these chilly waters and a proper flotation device before taking a dip.
#2 – SUGAR SUFFERING
Along with heat-related illnesses, dehydration is also a real threat during summer months. Staying hydrated is important, but be sure to keep sugar intake of both beverages and food down as well. Increased sugar levels cause us to urinate more frequently, which can lead to dehydration. Sugar also interferes with enzyme production and changes the way our body stores water.
Also, beware of some sports drinks that have higher than expected sugar (and salt) levels. When it comes to staying cool and being better hydrated in the heat, plenty of water is always the safest solution.
#3 – KEEP AN EYE ON BARE FEET
Kids absolutely love running around barefoot during summer months but some surfaces become painfully hot even in mild temperatures. According to one study, when the outside thermometer reads 90 degrees, sidewalks are close to 100 degrees and black asphalt is even hotter. As temperatures continue to rise, your child’s feet could easily experience painful first or second-degree burns from these blistering surfaces. Keep them safer with sandals, tennis shoes, or flip-flops on their little piggies.
#4 – BARBEQUE & COOKOUT CALAMITIES
The great American backyard barbecue is a summertime tradition in almost every neighborhood, but this favorite pastime is also fraught with many dangers. Obviously the cook needs to keep a close eye on the grill and keep kids away from the fire, matches, lighters, and flammable fluids, but parents also need to watch for other cookout-related calamities.
- We all know about leaving the mayo out too long (including when mixed in salads), but be mindful of raw meat and poultry left out in the heat
- While staying outdoors for extended periods, we may not remember to wash up so leave hand sanitizer and towels nearby for cleanliness
- Splintering poultry and pork bones are dangerous for dogs, but they also pose a significant choking hazard for children
#5 – THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
Download an app, like Footprints, to keep track of your kids. This will help you ensure they arrive at their intended destination, whether that’s a friend’s house or the baseball field. With Footprints, you can even Geofence an area and get a notification when your child goes outside it.
In case of a missing child, download FBI Child ID. This app is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and it allows you to store information about your child on your phone to give authorities if your child goes missing. It also includes safety tips and information about what to do in such an emergency.
#6 – GET RID OF BUGS
Mosquito bites are irritating, but other pests can cause more damage. Wasp and yellowjacket stings are painful and can cause serious allergic reactions while ticks carry Lyme and other diseases.
Protect your kids against bug bites:
- Use insect repellent on clothes and exposed skin
- Check your home for wasp nests and have them removed
- Keep your lawn mowed
- Avoid tall grass and vegetation when possible, and check your children for ticks when they get home. If you need to remove a tick that has latched on, the most effective way to remove it is by grabbing it with tweezers as close to the skin as you can, and then gently pulling it out. Disinfect the bite area once the tick has been removed. Watch your child for telltale signs of Lyme disease.
#7 – PREVENT SUNBURNS
If your child gets a sunburn, it can cause days of discomfort as well as cumulative damage to his or her skin.
- Walk on the shady side of the street when possible
- Have your child wear a hat
- Apply sunscreen regularly, especially if you’re enjoying a day at the beach. Reapply, even when they aren’t swimming because one application probably won’t be enough!
#8 – Watch the Temperature
Dehydration and heat-related illnesses, like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke, are more serious dangers for children than for adults, because “a child’s body surface area makes up a much greater proportion of his overall weight than an adult’s.”
The first step in preventing heat-related illness is to make sure your child is drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Try to have them stay inside during the hottest parts of the day but if that’s not possible, encourage them to find shade and take breaks.
- Muscle cramps
If you suspect heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.
#9 – Play It Safe in the Pool
For many kids, being in the water is one of the highlights of the summer, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two children under the age of 14 die every day from unintentional drowning. It’s a scary thought, but there are a lot of factors that are in your control:
- Make sure your children know how to swim. Have them take lessons as young as possible
- Use life jackets
- If you have a pool, put a fence around it and lock the gate to make sure no one can enter without supervision. This tragic story of a four-year-old who drowned in a backyard pool may have been prevented with a fence or a pool cover
- Supervise children at all times when they’re in the pool
- Learn CPR so that in the event of an incident you can begin life-saving care while you wait for the medical professionals to arrive.
#10 – Be Careful with Trampolines
Children suffer broken bones, concussions, scrapes, bruises, and other injuries resulting from trampoline mishaps led to one million emergency room visits between 2002 and 2011. Injuries happen when kids bump into each other, fall off, or fail at an attempt at a stunt. If you have a trampoline, insist on the following guidelines to prevent injuries:
- Use a safety net around the trampoline
- Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time
- Cover the springs, and check the trampoline for signs of wear and tear
- No somersaults or flips!
#11 – Take Precautions to Prevent Sports-Related Injuries
If your children play summer sports, they might occasionally get bumps and bruises or even a sprain or broken bone. This is how you can help prevent sports-related injuries:
- Make sure your child uses appropriate protective gear for his or her sport. Ensure all safety equipment and clothing fit properly. Replace worn out gear and shoes
- Teach your child to follow the rules of the game (some of which are in place for safety reasons) and practice good sportsmanship
- Make sure your children do a proper warm-up and cool-down before and after practices and games
- Encourage your child to sit out with an injury instead of toughing it out on the field. Continuing to play with an injury, even one that seems minor, can lead to lasting issues. The child’s coach should be on board with this as well.
#12 – Purchase Physical Injury Insurance
Of course accidents can happen during sports, regular playtime, and simple daily life activities. Kids might fall down the stairs, trip over a tree root, or get sick. You can’t prevent all of these incidents. Don’t feel guilty, but do make choices that allow you to handle whatever may happen.
Physical injury insurance is one of those options. Coverage from Emerge takes care of out-of-pocket and non-medical expenses for a child’s illness or injury that your regular insurance won’t cover. You are paid directly and can use that money as needed to ease the financial burden of the accident.
For example, if your child breaks his or her arm, the physical injury insurance money could cover your deductible as well as the cost of a babysitter for your other children while you are at the emergency room. If your child has to stay in the hospital, it could cover your transportation to visit him or her.
Don’t let an accident ruin your summer or your finances. Keep your vacation money in the bank, and use your physical injury insurance to cover those extra costs associated with the injury. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have and get you set up with a policy to help ease your mind and allow you to enjoy these days in the sun with your kids.
Coverage from Emerge starts at less than fifty cents a day and can cover children, spouses, and even domestic partners. Don’t get burned by overwhelming costs this summer; see how one of our plans will help to protect your loved ones all year round.