The Summer provides many new safety issues, especially concerning small children. Here are a few helpful tips and links to articles that have helped me to think about ways that I can keep my children safe in the summertime!
Water Safety – It's obvious, but never let your child in any amount of water without an adult present. No one should go swimming alone because muscle cramps and blackouts DO happen and it's better to swim in at least pairs. Life jackets, floaties, and floatation devices are great, but don't rely on them. And don't rely on other people to watch your child. Swimming pools get busy and sometimes a drowning child can't be heard over the loud noise of the pool. Take every second seriously when your child is in the water. If you're thirsty for more water safety tips, check out Going Crazy!! Wanna Go??!! where Janet, Child Safety Specialist, gives us her top tips for water safety!
Water Park/Amusement Park Safety – These attractions are insanely popular, even in the hot temps. It is a good idea to put your cell phone number ON your child, like with a Tig Tagz wristband. Kids can disappear in the blink of an eye and then freeze up when a stranger asks their name, let alone their address or phone number. Teach your child to find a mom with kids, a policeman, or a park employee if they're lost. The person should find the wristband with their number and you could be reunited faster than if they were to wait around for you to find them.
Safety In The Heat – Here is a great post written by MamaNYC on the Going Crazy!! Wanna Go??!! blog. In addition to this, remember to keep little ones hydrated because if they're playing and having fun, especially in water, they probably won't think about the fact that they are thirsty. And remember that we all need more than water, especially if we're sweating a lot. Sports drinks are good, if you can find some without high fructose corn syrup. Other great, natural options for replacing electrolytes are: bananas, coconut water, watermelon, or you can make your own replenishing sports drink with this recipe: 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 Tbsp sugar, and mix with 1 liter of water. Also, remember that sunscreen is ALWAYS a must!
Lawnmower Safety – I see it all the time. Parents or grandparents out on the riding lawnmower with their child on their lap. Sure, it's fun and an easy way to keep tabs on your child while you're doing lawnwork, but please consider this: the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that about 17,000 children require care in the emergency room each year because of lawn mower accidents. That is not riding lawnmower specific, but I hear about accidents and even deaths of children who have fallen off riding lawnmowers or who have been ran over with a riding lawnmower. PLEASE be safe and know that accidents happen. Riding on the lap of a person on a lawnmower is bouncy and loud. You never know when your child is going to jump or fall off. It is the absolute best option to keep children inside with an adult when operating any kind of mower or machinery. And for a step further, tell children the seriousness of lawnmowers and help them to realize they must never go near a lawnmower. And let Grandma and Grandpa know, too, that you don't want your child near a lawnmower.
Carseat Safety – Lastly, I think we as parents tend to become lax in the hot summer months. Some parents might choose to let the child ride in a lap or in the seat without a seat belt if the carseat is hot or "we're just driving around the corner." If a child is in a moving vehicle, they MUST be restrained properly. There are many affordable options to safely restrain your child in a car. Here is a carseat that is good for 10 years and good up to 120 pounds! You don't have to spend the big bucks to get the best seat, either, as all carseats have to pass certain standards, so lack of money should never be an excuse. There are also agencies that will help provide carseats for those in need. Also, never buy carseats at garage sales, because most of the time they're out of date and could have been in a crash, in which case, need to be thrown away.
Each state and country has it's own carseat safety laws. Since I live in Texas, I'll share with you the Texas recommendations from the Texas DPS website:
Phase 1 – Rear-Facing Seats – Infants, Babies, and Kids should ride rear-facing as long as possible, up to the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat.
I know three year olds and even older kids who still ride rear-facing. It is truly the safest option, and many carseats have high rear-facing height and weight limits. The old thought of "one year and 20 lbs" no longer holds water. Rear-facing is always safest if you're within the limits of the carseat. Don't be in a hurry to turn your child around.
Phase 2 – Forward-Facing Seats – When children outgrow the rear-facing height and weight limits of the CARSEAT, they should ride in a forward-facing carseat for as long as possible, up to the height or weight limit of the harness. Most forward facing carseat harnesses have weight limits of 40-80 lbs. NEVER turn a child forward-facing before one year AND 20-22 lbs, but like I said previously, rear-facing is always best if you're within weight and height limits of the carseat.
Phase 3 – Booster Seats – After age 4 and 40+ lbs, children can ride in a booster seat with the adult lap and shoulder belt until the adult belt will fit them properly. (Usually when the child is 4'9" tall.) You MUST have a lap/shoulder belt to use a booster seat.
Phase 4 – Adult Safety Belt – Once children outgrow their booster seat (usually at 4'9", 100 pounds), they can use the adult safety belt if it fits them properly. Lap portion low over the hips/tops of thighs and shoulder belt crosses the center of the shoulder and center of the chest.
Get more tips for choosing a carseat from the Naptime Is My Time blog!