Safety first: Tips to keep kids safe during the summer
Summertime. For kids, it means freedom, the great outdoors, and lots of physical activity. For parents, it can be terrifying to imagine the danger that lurks around every corner.
All that summer fun -- swimming, skateboarding, waterskiing, and even baseball -- can be dangerous if kids aren't careful. But rather than ban them from their favorite activities, establish some ground rules designed to keep them safe while they get out there and do their thing.
1. Invest in quality safety equipment -- and insist on using it. Helmets; knee, wrist, and elbow pads; and other safety equipment really do save lives. Once you set the rule, make it clear that there are no warnings. "If I ever see you using your skateboard without a helmet, I will sell the skateboard on eBay, and that will be the end of it." Harsh? Yeah, but better to have them grumble than to have them in the emergency room. Think of it this way: do you plan to let them drive without seatbelts?
2. Work the buddy system. Some activities must be done in pairs. No swimming alone, for example. Always require kids to team up for safety -- and always insist on knowing the buddy and the activity. Again, be ready to enforce the rule. If you find out your child went swimming alone, even if he is certified in CPR, that's the end of pool season. What was his plan -- to resuscitate himself if necessary?
3. Know when you need to spend more on certified instructors. It's one thing for kids to play baseball in the park without umpires, coaches, or full-on gear. But when your daughter wants to go waterskiing or scuba diving, pay for the certified instructor and proper equipment. This is not where you skimp.
4. Consider safety courses. Your local Red Cross or a similar organization may offer safety courses for kids and adults. These classes are a great idea. Try to get a few of your kids' friends enrolled as well -- the more people who are trained to respond properly in the event of an emergency, the better.
5. Don't forget basic precautions. Sunscreen and insect repellent are a must for anyone spending time outdoors. Find a continuous spray product, stock up, and stash it everywhere. Keep some in baskets by your doors, in the car, and in kids' backpacks. Replenish regularly. Get kids in the healthy habit of putting on sunscreen every day.
Summer safety doesn't have to dominate your life. But taking a few simple precautions can make your vacation season much more enjoyable.