Keeping children safe - summer safety tips

Keeping children safe - summer tips

Be careful during the carefree days of summer

**Special tip! Parents... when camping in the great outdoors, hiking, walking trails in the woods, etc., make sure your child has a whistle on a string around their neck! In this way, should they become lost, teach them to "hug a tree" and start whistling! Sound carries a long way, and this can help locate them!!

As we enter the carefree days of summer, it is a great time for children to be playing outside with their friends. It is also a time when the rules may become a little more relaxed, and children can find themselves with less adult supervision.

In addition, it is a time when children are more accessible to people who may try to harm them, and parents must take precautions to better ensure their children’s safety. With more children outside for longer periods of time, predators see opportunities to access unsupervised children. That’s why it is even more important to review the safety rules below and role-play these rules with your children.

“First and foremost, parents need to know who is supervising their children,” said Nancy McBride, executive director of the Florida branch of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC/FL). “They should choose summer programs, camps, and activities with care. Make certain that the program is licensed, inquire about background screening for employees, and find out what adult supervision is available for outdoor activities and field trips. Parents should visit these programs, unannounced, to see how the staff interacts with the children. The best source of information about your children is your children. Listen carefully when they tell you how their day went.”

Parents should also caution their children never to approach a car, especially when someone they don’t know is inside, regardless of what the person is saying to them. Predators have been known to use a number of tricks to try to entice children to go with them including ruses such as asking children to help them find a lost puppy and asking for directions. Since children tend to be helpful and seek adult approval, it is easy for them to forget the rules and respond to the request.

“Children need to know it’s okay for them to say no,” said McBride. “Their safety is much more important, and they also need to know it is okay for them to tell you if someone has bothered them or if they are frightened or confused.”

Don’t assume your children are safe when playing in the yard. Frequently check on them and instruct them to tell you if their plans change or if they want to go somewhere with a friend. This goes for the older kids as well as for the younger ones. It goes without saying that children are safer with other children than when they are alone. But “safety in number's” isn’t enough. Children need to know, remember, and follow these safety rules.

Be sure to go over the rules with your children about whose homes they can visit when you’re not there, and discuss the boundaries of where they can and can’t go in the neighborhood.

Make sure your children know their full names, address, and telephone number's and how to use the telephone. Be sure that they know what to do in case of an emergency, like how to dial 911.

Caution children not to open the door when they are home alone. Make certain that they understand not to tell anyone who calls that they are home alone.

Because molesters and abductors are known to seek access to children who are unsupervised, make sure your children are supervised at all times especially in places like malls, movie theaters, video arcades, and parks. Teach your children in whose car they may ride. Children should be cautioned never to approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless accompanied by a parent or trusted adult.

Make sure your children know to stay away from pools, canals, or other bodies of water without adult supervision.

Since daylight lasts longer, be sure your children know when they need to be home, and instruct them to let you know if they are going to be late. If you allow your children to play outside after dark, make sure that they have reflective clothing and stay close to home.

Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Observe the babysitter’s interaction with your children and talk to your children about their feelings about the babysitter.

Check out camp and other summer programs before enrolling your children. See if a background screening check is completed on the individuals working with the children. Make sure that there will be adult supervision of your children at all times, and make sure that you are made aware of all activities and field trips offered by the camp or program.

Investigate daycare settings thoroughly before placing your children. Make certain that the center or family daycare home is licensed and parents are free to come and go as they wish. Observe the personnel and activities several times before making your decision, and visit unannounced after placement.

Be sure that all custody documents are in order and certified copies are available in case your children are not returned from a summertime visit from someone like a noncustodial parent, grandparent, or other relative. Always listen to your children and keep the lines of communication open. Your children are your best source for determining if everything is okay. Teach your children to get out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations right away, and make sure that they know they can tell you about anything that happens to them.

For additional information on child safety, visit NCMEC’s web site at or call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Tips reprinted with permission from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Copyright © 1993 NCMEC. All rights reserved.

The following summer safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story. Please attribute these tips to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Fun in the sun
Babies under 6 months:

For young children:

For older children:

Heat stress in exercising children

Pool safety

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.
  • Install a fence at least four-foot high around all four sides of the pool.
  • Make sure pool gates self-close and self-latch at a height children can't reach.
  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd's hook - a long pole with a hook on the end - and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as "floaties." They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.
  • Children are not developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their fourth birthday. Swim programs for children under 4 should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.
  • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."

Boat safety

  • Your children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts, and air mattresses should never be used as life jackets or life preservers.
  • Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection and to set a good example.

Bug safety

  • Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
  • Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
  • Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
  • To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail.
  • Insect repellents containing DEET are the most effective.
  • The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent. The benefits of DEET reach a peak at a concentration of 30 percent, the maximum concentration currently recommended for infants and children. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
  • The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the label of any product you purchase.
  • Playground safety

    • Carefully maintain all equipment.
    • Swings should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
    • Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
    • Make sure metal slides are cool to prevent children's legs from getting burned.
    • Parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines.

    Bicycle safety

    • Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5 or 6. Consider the child's coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster brakes until your child is older and more experienced.
    • Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new bike.
    • Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to "grow into." Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.
    • Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many accidents happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets.
    • A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. And remember, wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.

    Skateboard and scooter safety

    • Children should never ride skateboards or scooters in or near traffic.
    • All skateboarders and scooter-riders should wear a helmet and other protective gear.
    • Communities should continue to develop skateboard parks, which are more likely to be monitored for safety than ramps and jumps constructed by children at home.

    Travel safety

    Air Bag Safety

    • Buckle up car seats and seat belts.
    • When your child reaches the top weight allowed for his car safety seat or his ears have reached the top of his car safety seat, he needs a booster seat. Booster seats should be used until he can correctly use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
    • Keep supplies with you, such as snacks, water, a first aid kit and any medicines your child takes.
    • Always use a car seat, starting with your baby's first ride home from the hospital. Help your child form a lifelong habit of buckling up.
    • Read the manufacturer's instructions and always keep them with the car seat. Read your vehicle owner's manual for more information on how to install the car seat.
    • Put your child in the back seat. It is the safest place in the car because it is farthest away from a head-on crash (the most common type of crash).
    • The harness system holds your child in the car seat and the seat belts hold the seat in the car. Attach both snugly to protect your child.
    • Children in rear-facing car seats should never be placed in a front seat equipped with an air bag.
    • Children traveling alone to visit relatives or attend summer camp should have a copy of their medical information with them at all times.

    Lawn mower safety

  • Try to use a mower with a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is let go.
  • Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
  • Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.

Fireworks safety

  • Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.
  • Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, i.e. sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees F, and can burn users and bystanders.
  • The AAP recommends prohibiting public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or Internet, and encourages parents to attend professional fireworks displays instead of using fireworks at home.

Home alone

  • Spend some time explaining your expectations for any time that your children are unsupervised.
  • Establish a regular schedule of "check-in calls" in which your child calls you to let you know how and what he/she is doing.
  • Remember time off from school does not mean time off from chores. Household tasks help teach kids responsibility.
  • For older kids, establish rules about friends coming over to visit. Are you ok with your child having friends over at the house without any supervision?
  • Create a first aid kit and teach children how to use it. Establish a list of emergency phone contacts and keep it by the phone.
  • Store alcohol and prescription medication in a location that is completely inaccessible to children.

American Academy of Pediatrics, May, 2004

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