A Parent’s Guide to Outdoor Safety
Warmer weather and vacation time from school means your kids are going to be spending a lot of time outside. While activities like picnics and pool time are among summer’s most treasured pastimes, the great outdoors can also be a breeding ground for potential hazards. With that in mind, make sure you take some precautionary measures to ensure your kiddos have a safe and healthy season.
Inspect All Playground Equipment
Jungle gyms, slides, and swing sets take a beating during the winter months, so it’s crucial that you thoroughly inspect all equipment to ensure it’s safe and in working order. Look for potential damage like rusty chains, weakened screws/joints, corroded metal, etc. If you don’t already own a swing set, make sure you do some research to ensure you’re purchasing a safe one.
Prepare for the Pool
If your little one doesn’t know how to swim — or they’re simply not a strong swimmer — get him/her a properly fitted life jacket. Also, make sure you check that any pool/beach equipment such as water wings and rafts are free from holes. And make sure they still fit and/or support the weight of your child. Experts suggest that four is a good age for kids to begin swimming lessons, so consider looking into offerings within your community.
Fence in Your Property
Keep little ones from wandering off your property with a protective fence. A fence can also prevent potentially aggressive animals from entering your yard. When searching for a fence installer, insist that they are licensed and insured and that they’re knowledgeable about your home’s underground utility lines. It costs $4,500 on average to install a fence, but costs will vary based on the materials you use, size of the fence, and cost of labor in your area.
Not only are bug bites annoying, but they can also be dangerous if there’s a life-threatening allergic reaction. Bug bites can also transmit pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites. The best way to protect your kids is by avoiding dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. If this is not possible, make sure all exposed skin is covered with light clothing such as socks and closed-toe shoes. Make sure you always have a safe insect repellent on-hand, but don’t go higher than 10 percent for kids aged between six months to twelve years. Note that babies younger than six months should not be in contact with repellant of any kind, so keep them under netting if outdoors.
Protect Kids from the Sun
Getting a healthy dose of vitamin D is one thing, but getting a blistering sunburn is another. Protect your kids by limiting time spent outdoors between the hours of 10 and 4 when the sun’s rays are the most intense. Liberally apply an SPF of 15 or higher 30 minutes before time spent in the sun — don’t forget tender spots like nose, ears, the tops of feet, hands, and behind the neck.
Get a separate sun protecting product (like a balm) for lips. Make sure you’re reapplying the product every two to three hours (more if they’re sweating a lot) or immediately after coming out of the water. When they’re not in a suit, protective clothing, and accessories such as sunglasses, hats with brims, and dark clothing (wet, light-colored clothing mimics the skin when exposed to sunlight) is best — for babies, too. Some medications make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to check with your kid’s doctors if they’re taking anything.
Dangers of Overheating
Heat exhaustion or heat stroke (the more life-threatening of the two) are extremely serious conditions that should not be taken lightly. Symptoms include increased thirst and sweating, weakness, fainting, muscle cramps, nausea/vomiting, headache, clammy/cool skin, and an elevated body temperature — but no more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, immediately bring them to a cooler, shaded spot — preferably indoors. Remove any excess clothing and administer cool fluids that contain electrolytes such as a sports drink. Place a cool, wet cloth and/or water on their skin. If symptoms don’t improve or become more serious (think dizziness, confusion, extreme vomiting, elevated temperature), immediately head to the emergency room.
Small, preventative measures can make the time spent outdoors more enjoyable for everyone. The earlier you implement these safety measures into your kid’s lives, the easier it will be for them to adopt them. Just make sure you set a good example by following the same rules you place on your children.
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Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas — Education, Relationships, and Community.
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