Tag Archives: summer safety

Summer Sun Safety

Posted by Marianne Frederick

Summer begins next week. Many schools are already out, and families are beginning to take advantage of the warmer weather with vacations, outdoor activities, and having fun in the sunshine! Sunlight is good for most of us in small doses. It helps maintain good attitudes and gives us the Vitamin D to promote the absorption of calcium we get from food and dairy products that strengthens our bones. And while going to the beach and lying out in the sun may sound like a tempting idea, as parents and caregivers we need to be very careful of young children’s exposure to the sun.Not only can over-exposure and repeated sunburns cause discomfort in the present (and wrinkles in later life), but repeated burning by the sun can create skin conditions that are a precursor to skin cancer.

Infants’ and young children’s skin burns quicker than older children and adults’ skin.  In young children with fair and sensitive skin, parents need to be especially alert to the possibility of sunburn. Parents also need to pay strict attention to the amount of exposure to the sun children with darker skin receive as the effects of sun burning cannot always be observed at first glance. Children who have light-colored eyes and hair, moles on the skin or a history of skin cancer in their family are at a greater risk for the kind of sun damage that can cause skin cancer. Severe sunburn can happen to any child (or adult) who receives too much exposure to the sun, and bad or repeated sunburn can cause blistering of the skin, swelling, pain and discomfort as with any burn. Parents and caregivers need to be careful to limit young children’s exposure to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B rays (UVB). Here are a few tips to keep kids’ time in the sun safe and fun:

  • Limit young children’s exposure to the sun by bringing them inside when the sun is strongest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and encouraging them to play inside or in the shade when possible;
  • Before children go out in the sun, make sure to apply sun screen amply on areas of the skin that are exposed: Noses, cheeks, chins, tops of ears, foreheads, shoulders, arms, hands, backs of necks and backs, legs, ankles and feet. Repeated applications are often necessary when kids get wet. And don’t forget those areas that aren’t used to being exposed… like tummies!
  • If you don’t know what kind of sunscreen to use, checking with your pediatrician who knows your child’s skin type is a good idea. (Read the labels and know the ingredients in a sunscreen. Pay attention to the ingredients if your child has any other skin conditions or allergies!)
  • When you know your child is going to be out in the sun, you may want to dress them in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing with longer sleeves, so some of their skin at least is covered.  If clothing is “see-through”, the sun’s rays can get through, so the less skin you can see, the greater protection their clothing will be.
  • Putting a hat or cap on an infant’s or young child’s head will help keep a child’s scalp from burning and it’s good if a cap has a wide brim or sunviser to shade their eyes;
  • If you live near the equator where the sun’s rays are strong or at a high altitude where the air is thin, your child will need more protection from the sun’s rays.
  • For children 5 years old and under, sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is better protection in a sunscreen–but to make sure of the best SPF for your child, check with your pediatrician.

No matter where you are under the sun, keep young children’s sun exposure to a minimum when possible and have a great summer!

Boating Safety with Children

That time of year is here.  It’s almost the 4th of July when families with children are considering how to spend a few days of much-anticipated vacation!  July 4th   not only represents the American Colonists’ gaining independence from British rule, it also signals to many people the beginning of summer. And July 4th  is often touted as the biggest family boating weekend of the entire summer season.  There will be colorful boat regattas, races, sailing classes, pleasure boating, fishing, and water sports of all kinds frequently taking place in and on the same body of water at the same time.  This means lots of boating traffic and boating safety rules and local laws will be enforced to keep everyone safe in and on the water.

Wherever you go boating with your children, whether it is on the ocean, in a lake, canal, river, or pond, boating with children means fun.  Let’s look at some important things for parents and guardians to consider and remember when taking children in a boat:

Make sure the boat you are getting in and placing your children in, is SAFE.  Never place your children in or on a boat you think (just from observing it) may not be safe, whether it is your neighbor’s speedboat, the tourist ferry boat or a simple canoe.

Never place or allow your children (under 12) to go out in a boat alone without an adult who can swim. 

Never place your children in a boat with an inexperienced captain, i.e., someone who has never run a speed boat or paddled a canoe.  Whether it’s a fishing boat, a sail boat, ski boat, or canoe, it takes a certain amount of knowledge and experience to run a particular boat.  Make sure the captain is knowledgeable, not a first-timer.

How can you, as a parent, tell that a boat may be safe and water-worthy? The boat should be in good physical condition–with no leaks and dry floorboards. It should be obvious that the boat has been well cared for. A boat should have a license in the state in which it is housed.  A boat’s registration should be up-to-date, with registration numbers and decal displayed on the outside hull or aft of the boat, and a current registration card must be carried by the person who owns and is running the boat at all times.  While a license doesn’t guarantee a boat is completely safe, boat owners who keep their boat registration current and carry their registration card are somewhat conscientious. 

Conscientious boat owners also may have their boats inspected (often free) annually by the local Coast Guard Auxiliary Chapter or the local law enforcement agency specializing in boat safety. You can ask the boat’s owner, “Has this boat been inspected recently?” Good captains will want you to know!

Every water-worthy craft (boat) should contain equipment that represents safe boating. If it’s a boat with gas-powered engine(s), such as a speed boat, fishing boat, deck, or pontoon boat, look for a fire extinguisher visible on board the boat and a certain number of flotation devices in the boat. At the minimum, a boat should carry an extra paddle, a rope, an anchor, and a map of the body of water, especially if it is many miles around or long.  If you are boating at night, the boat should have lights, red/green in the front and white in the aft and a horn to alert other boaters.

Every person in the boat, especially children, should wear a Coast Guard- approved flotation device, often called a life jacket or sometimes a “May West.” The Coast Guard approved-flotation device may be bright orange in color–or it might be brightly colored, fashion designer wear. Whatever the case, in 90% of boating accidents, a life jacket will keep your child’s head above the water in case of a boating emergency. 

Just having life jackets on board is not enough, make sure your child wears a life jacket and make sure its straps are securely fastened.  Don’t just put it around you or your child and say, “Oh, (I or) he can swim.”  Unfortunately, a person can’t swim if they’ve been knocked unconscious by a bad spill, crash, or explosion.

Make sure your children stay seated when the boat is in operation.  It’s not a good idea to be walking around causing a shift in the boat’s weight distribution while it’s in operation. Also, a boat in motion is just that–walking can be a tremulous thing on a boat–your child can fall. Pay attention to your captain, if he/she tells you to move or change seats or sides, do it!

Make sure the boat isn’t overloaded with people. If it is, don’t get in it! What’s the boat’s capacity–Ask–Don’t be shy!

All of the tips we have previously mentioned about safety in the heat, safety around water–all of those cautions apply when you take children in a boat out on the water–make sure to stay hydrated in the heat, absolutely use sunscreen and cover-ups.  Tee-shirts or beach towels help to cover exposed skin.  It’s easy to get sunburned and/or wind-burned while out on the water!

One final caution for boating safety with children applies more to parents and guardians and is a watchword of extreme caution to be taken to heart:

Boats, water, and alcoholic beverages do NOT mix.

If the person running the watercraft you plan to ride in–whether it’s a family member, a neighbor or an old friend– is or has been drinking, please don’t get on the  boat–and don’t place your children on that boat.  If there would be an emergency or an accident–someone whose reaction time has been impaired by consumption of alcohol may not be able to save you or your children or even themselves. If they are or have been drinking–any amount–they are liable to cause a boating accident and even if there is no accident or emergency, you can be sure they are operating the boat in contravention of the local laws, placing you and your children in jeopardy.

The goal of boating safely with children is to ENJOY boating and your children. Safe boating makes for good memories and fun that will be repeated now and in years to come. So, come aboard for a safe summer!

Today is the First Day of Summer: How Safe is Your Child Near the Water?

A shocking number of children drown each year–approximately 11,000 children in the U.S. die due to drowning. At least 1,000 of those deaths occur to little ones between infancy and 5.

Water safety practitioners encourage parents to:

  • Supervise children at all times when they are in, around, or even near water.

This doesn’t just mean when they are in a boat, by the lake, at the fish pond, by a brook or creek, at the beach or at poolside, it means any time. Any time there is standing water in a bathtub, in a wading pool, in a bucket or a 1″ deep puddle, there is the danger of drowning. Little ones especially are attracted to water and are not able to judge its depth, nor do they always have the physical ability to extricate themselves, once in it.

  • Swimming lessons are a great start to a safe summer, but simply knowing how to swim doesn’t mean your child can’t get into difficulty. Provide and make sure your children wear flotation devices if they need them and you go in deep water (whether at the pool, river, lake or beach) with your kids.

In my youth, we spent time at a lake in the summer. I got in trouble more than once–thankfully, I survived. Once, however, I dove into the water from an unsteady canoe, came up and hit my head on the bottom of the canoe. Yes, I could swim, but because I was almost knocked out, I drank a lot of the lake! If my older sibling hadn’t been along for the trip, I could have been a drowning statistic, which brings up another tip:

  • Never allow your child to go to or in the water alone. Go with them or make sure a caregiver, an able swimmer, or an older buddy goes with them.
  • If you take your child to the pool or the lake to swim, it’s time for you to learn Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

Administering CPR to an infant or a child is different than administering CPR to an adult, so it’s important to know the difference. You can check with your local rescue squad, fire department or your local chapter of the American Red Cross to learn if they are offering a CPR course near you this summer. The courses are not expensive; some are free providing they have attendees.

  • If you are hiring caregivers and babysitters, ask those you interview if they know CPR (and are certified to perform it) before you hire them.

If supervision of children were more thorough and parents, family members, caregivers and babysitters knew how to administer CPR, there would be more hopeful statistics to post here. There is nothing worse than watching a capable EMT administer CPR to a child who has fallen in the water and cannot respond.

All of us at ChildSafetyBlog.org are wishing you a safe and enjoyable summer!