Dust off your grill and grab your swimsuits, because the lazy days of summer are here! The Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that almost 50% of preschool-aged children do not spend even just one session of outdoor play each day. Outdoor play is linked to better mental and physical health, so now is the time to make it happen! Before your little ones run out the door, make sure they’re geared up for summer fun and summer safety.
Here is a list of common summer safety hazards and tips for creating many happy summer days:
1. Sun Safety
When it comes to protecting your kids from the sun, sunscreen plays an important role. But sunscreen is just one of the ways to guard against the sun’s damaging rays. Because the sun’s rays can reflect off of the sand and water or other reflective surfaces, hats, and sunglasses can also play an important role in preventing UV damage. The American Cancer Society suggests a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Remember to reapply sunscreen frequently – about every 2 hours. Pediatricians discourage heavy sunscreen use for children less than six months of age. When it comes to babies, apply just a small amount to a baby’s face, hands, and neck. The better option for infants is to dress them in light clothing, sunglasses, and hats; and to keep them in the shade as much as possible.
2. Prevent Dehydration
Whether your child is playing soccer with teammates or running around in the park with some buddies, it’s important to keep in mind that frequent water breaks are very important to prevent dehydration. Your child should drink water before exercise and during breaks, which should be about every 15 to 20 minutes. Water and sports drinks (drinks that contain electrolytes) are the best options for hydrating kids — avoid sodas, juice and other fruit drinks. Kids are also at risk for heat illnesses if left in a hot car — even if the windows are cracked and even if it’s only for a few minutes. Never leave a child unattended in a car.
3. Protect Against Creepy Crawlies
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 bothersome 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 — 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. There is a lot of information out there about using essential oils for natural repellents as well!
4. Prevent Injuries
Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Falls at home and on the playground are a common cause of injury. Check to make sure that the surfaces under playground equipment are safe, soft, and well-maintained and supervise young children at all times around these fall hazards. Also, use secure stair gates in the home, which can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.
5. Don’t Forget Helmets
Whether or not you wore a helmet while riding your bike as a child, it’s a must for kids these days. 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.
Guest Writer: Kelly Ball, Early Childhood Consultant at Wayne RESA GSRP
Great Start Readiness Program is a Michigan state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children with factors which may place them at risk of educational failure. The program is administered by the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start. Funding is allocated to Wayne RESA to administer the program locally.
These blogs were developed and funded under a grant awarded by the Michigan Department of Education.
Research on preschool programs and specific research on GSRP indicates that children provided with a high-quality preschool experience show significant positive developmental differences when compared to children from the same backgrounds who did not attend a high-quality preschool program.