Injury is the #1 killer of children and teens in the United States. In one year alone, more than 9,000 youth age 0-19 died from unintentional injuries in the US while millions more suffer injuries requiring treatment in the emergency department. Leading causes of child injury include motor vehicle crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls. Child safety is among the most under-recognized public health problems facing our country today.
The good news is child injury is predictable and preventable!
We urge all parents and child caregivers to get informed and be part of the national movement to reduce child deaths and injuries.
Join us this month as we stress the importance of family summer safety. It could help save a child’s life!
Summer Safety Checklist for Kids
Summer means lots of kids will be playing outdoors, but it’s important to keep a safety checklist in mind to keep kids safe while they’re having fun. Here are some great tips to keep in mind for kids’ safety. Post this safety checklist on your fridge or family bulletin board as a reminder of ways you can keep your kids safe and prevent injuries or accidents from intruding on your family’s summer fun.
1. Practice Summer Sun Safety for Kids
- Apply sunscreen. It can certainly be challenging to remember to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. But that’s exactly what you and your kids should do before heading outside, even on cloudy days (that’s because UVA rays can go right through the clouds and still cause damage). Use generous amounts of UVA- and UVB- blocking sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply every two hours or more often after swimming or sweating. Studies have shown that people often underestimate how much sunscreen they should be using, so be sure to follow the directions on the package (about one ounce for the entire body is usually the recommended amount). If your grade-schooler is old enough and wants to apply his own sunscreen, supervise the application and remind him to wash his hands when he’s done so that he doesn’t accidentally rub sunscreen into his eyes. Finally, avoid using combination sunscreens with insect repellants because when sunscreen is reapplied, it can lead to excessive exposure to the repellant.
- Get some sun-protective clothing. Dress your kids in hats in wide brims and tightly-woven cotton clothing or clothes that have SPF built-in (many kids’ clothes, especially swimsuits, have sun protection in them nowadays). Try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its most intense peak, and try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Shop for some cool shades. Don’t forget your child’s eyes when you are out and about. Look for kids’ sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. You don’t need to spend a lot on kid sunglasses — research has shown that inexpensive sunglasses that are labeled as protective for UVA and UVB are effective in blocking the sun’s harmful rays.
- Remember that you can still get a sunburn even if it’s cloudy. Sunburns do not happen only on sunny days; up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rayscan penetrate the skin, even on cloudy days, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
2. Protect Against Bugs
- Use insect repellents to guard against ticks, which can carry Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile Virus and other viruses. Many repellents are made with DEET, an effective insecticide that is toxic or even potentially deadly if swallowed. If you do use a product containing DEET, it’s crucial not to apply the product to a child’s hands or face to avoid possible ingestion; it’s also important to wash off the product before bed to prevent overexposure to the chemical. Another effective ingredient found in repellents is picaridin, but DEET is the most effective, and what doctors recommend (at 30 percent DEET concentrations) given the dangers posed by viruses such as West Nile.
- An alternative to DEET-containing repellents are natural insect repellents; however, parents should keep in mind that “natural” doesn’t always mean “safe.” Talk to your pediatrician about which insect repellent is right for your family.
- Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants when going outside, particularly at dusk when mosquitoes are more likely to be present.
- Never leave stagnant pools of water around the house. Pools of water can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- Avoid using scented soaps or perfumes on your child. And do not allow your child to walk around carrying sweetened beverages, such as fruit juices. These sweet, strong scents can attract bees and wasps and increase your child’s risk of being stung.
3. Prevent Dehydration
4. Don’t Forget Helmets
5. Practice Food Safety
- Be sure to wash your hands before preparing or serving any food. Make sure your children wash their hands, or at least use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before eating.
- Never cross-contaminate. Do not allow any raw meat or poultry to come into contact with any other food or plates or utensils.
- Consider the temperature. Use a thermometer and be sure to cook all meat and poultry to the correct temperatures to kill any harmful bacteria. Keep all perishable foods in the refrigerator and do not keep leftovers unrefrigerated for more than one or two hours.
6. Guard Against Drowning
- Put barriers around the pool to restrict access. Use doors with locks and alarms to keep kids out when adults are not present.
- Never leave kids unsupervised. Even if your grade-schooler is a confident and capable swimmer, do not leave the pool area without adult supervision if children are in or near the water.
- Remember that drownings can happen silently. You may not hear splashing or a call for help—a drowning can happen in minutes and may be silent.
- Do not use flotation devices. Inflatable “floaties” and other flotation devices and toys can give kids who cannot swim a false sense of security.
- Learn CPR. You may never need to use it, but knowing CPR for adults and for kids is something that can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.
- Learn about the dangers of secondary drowning, which can happen on dry land, hours after a child inhales water into the lungs.
- Do not assume that a teen or relative will be watching. Talk to them about not using cell phones, texting, or allowing other distractions while supervising kids in the water.
7. Avoid Trampoline Danger
8. Warn Kids About Hiding in Enclosed Spaces
9. Use Caution When Doing Yardwork
10. Safeguard Home Playgrounds
Kids need our voice like never before!
American SPCC encourages you to join us as we help create a brighter future for children. By investing in children’s futures, we reach 1000’s per day, creating real impact in families and communities.
TAKE ACTION and start making a positive difference in the life of a child today!
Together, we can ensure that each generation has a better chance at a brighter future than the one before.
Ways to Help
American SPCC is a 501(c) 3 top-rated nonprofit organization (federal tax ID 27-4621515). Charitable donations are tax deductible.