7 Summer Safety Basics to Keep Your Family from Harm

Health & Wellness on 07.04.11
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1) Water Wonderful

Photo: Tomorrow Never Knows/CC

Between Memorial Day and the end of June, there were 48 drownings and 75 near-drownings in the USA, according to the CPSC. Water is attractive to kids, so many layers of protection are needed. Be sure that barriers, such as walls, keep kids away from the water when no one is looking. Teach your kids to swim as early as possible, but remember that someone should always be on hand to count noses even when experienced swimmers are in the water. Unlike the image on danger signs and in the movies, drowning is not dramatic. The person acting as lifeguard at the family swimming hole should know that a drowning person looks less like this


and more like this


Counting noses and scanning the bottom is lifeguarding. Reading the paper or chatting is not.

An important water fact for parents of infants: babies can swallow enough water to over-dilute their electrolytes, causing seizures. Infants will instinctively close their mouths if plunged underwater, but limit the amount of time an infant spends with their mouth near the water surface.

safety fire extinguisher

2) Fire Safety

Photo: qthrul/CC

Even if you plan to celebrate the Fourth of July without fireworks, fire will probably work its way into your festivities.  Barbecues, s'mores around the campfire... even finger-licking-good food being churned out at the range poses a risk of a grease fire. Of course you are teaching your kids the ground rules around fire, you inspect your gas lines before grilling, and you would not dream of risking carbon monoxide damage to those young brains by trying to grill indoors. But have you taken the next step? Get a fire extinguisher. Keep it near. And know how to use it - as well as when not to. Nothing beats hands-on experience: check if your local fire department offers courses. Otherwise, familiarize yourself thoroughly with the instructions well in advance of the time of need.

Sun safety

3) Sun protection

Photo: DieselDeamon/CC

Summer means sun! But nothing will ruin a holiday weekend faster than a debilitating sunburn or a trip to the emergency room with heat stroke. Be sure to keep plenty of drinks on hand, especially cool water which is calorie-free refreshment for everyone. Keep the youngest ones in the shade, and make sure the older kids have sun screen on all exposed skin.

safety helmet protects in crash

4) Head Injuries

Photo: sigsegv /CC

Summer is fun. Getting kids outdoors to cycle, skateboard, or ride horseback benefits everyone. By insisting on a safety helmet, you can both teach your kids great habits for life and protect their most important organ, their brain, from the follies of childhood. Another benefit of being the parent: now you understand why your folks' were always harping on diving in the short end of the pool. Be sure to give them a big hug and tell them thanks next time you see them.