KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research

Summer Safety Strategies: How to Protect Your Kids While Embracing the Outdoors

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 @ 04:54 PM

Guest Blog by Alex Robbins

Stay-at-home father of three lively boys.

Home safety is a number one priority when you are around this much energy and curiosity!

Summertime is a great time to get kids outside for fun in the sun, but it is important to consider safety both in the sun and in the water. Getting outdoors for some fresh air and play provides much-needed activity during the warm months, but parents and caregivers need to make sure that they are following key guidelines for keeping children safe.

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[Image by y-van-engelen/Pixabay]

Parents Need to Stay Aware and Near Kids in the Water

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details, following best practices for water safety is critical during the summer. Kids love to hit the beach, lake or pool during the hot months, but parents and caregivers need to be sure that they are staying nearby and keeping an eye on their children as they play. When it comes to young children under the age of five or so, experts recommend that caregivers make sure that they are never more than an arm's length away. Also remember, parents can help prevent water illnesses; just “Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and dirt out of the water. Take kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour.” (CDCP, Keep Kids Safe This Summer.)

The Red Cross suggests that children should always swim with a parent or buddy (never alone), and caregivers should always be especially cautious when kids are in natural bodies of water, as the conditions can be unpredictable and more hazardous than in a standard pool. Pools or spas at home should have barriers, covers or fences that ensure that children cannot access them without an adult. Experts also recommend that caregivers get trained in CPR and first aid.

Swim Lessons Add Extra Confidence and Security

While knowing how to swim is no guarantee against problems in the water, giving children the opportunity to take swim lessons during the summer is a great way to help them grow confidence and capability in the water. Many cities have swim clubs that offer lessons for kids of all ages and abilities, and numerous fitness centers, community centers, and facilities like the YMCA or organizations such as the Red Cross provide lessons as well.  For families with infants and toddlers, parent-child swim classes can be fun for the whole family!

Simple Precautions in the Water Can Have a Big Impact in Protecting Kids

Staying safe in the water encompasses more than just preventing drowning. When kids are boating at the lake or tubing down the river they should always wear properly-fitting life jackets. Life jackets now come in all sorts of styles that are cool and comfortable. Parents need to keep an eye on the sky. If you notice the weather changing, such as storm clouds, a sudden temperature drop or wind speed increasing, it’s wise to get out of the water onto dry land.

When in the pool, both adults and children should be cautious about injuries that can come from the chemicals used in the water. Medical Daily shares that several thousand adults and kids end up needing emergency medical care each year due to injuries from pool chemicals. The best way to avoid these types of injuries is to make sure that chemical containers are kept away from children, that special care is used in handling the chemicals, and that sufficient time has passed before entering the water after the chemicals have been added.

Practice Sun Safety Now to Reduce Long-Term Harm from Ultraviolet Rays

Parents and caregivers should also take steps to ensure that children are protected from the sun while playing outside. Sunburns in kids can increase the risks of skin cancers later in life. A few simple steps can go a long way in protecting kids from harmful ultraviolet rays. These UV rays are most damaging during the middle hours of the day, between 10 am and 4 pm, so it’s helpful to plan swimming and outdoor playtimes for the mornings, late afternoons, or evenings.

Hats are very helpful in protecting children's faces, noses, necks, ears, and scalps. Dressing children in lightweight skirts, pants, and long-sleeved shirts provides significant protection as well. Sunglasses are also a big help in reducing the impact from UV rays. Any exposed skin should be protected by sunscreen with at least a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) factor of 15. Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors, and it should be reapplied after swimming, heavy sweating or every couple of hours. For babies less than six months old, it is best to keep them out of direct sunlight and make sure that they are covered with hats and protective clothing to protect them from the UV rays.

Every parent or caregiver wants to keep their kids safe during the active summertime months. A few simple sun protection strategies can have a big impact in ensuring that children are protected. Sunscreen and protective clothing are essential for keeping kids safe from harmful UV rays. When it comes to water, vigilant supervision, swim lessons and following standard safety protocols will go a long way toward ensuring children have fun but stay safe outdoors.

Read more about the Benefits of Playing Outdoors in Previous KIPS Blogs:

How Children Benefit From Playing Outdoors

Does Playing Outdoors Improve Parent-Child Interaction?


How About Doing a KIPS Parenting Assessment with Families Outdoors?

Take a bag of toys outside!

Explore the plants and bugs in the garden! 

Take a walk in the park! 

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Tags: parent-child interaction, play in nature, child abuse/neglect prevention