Safety in the Summer
There’s so much about summer to love—the
relaxed pace, the extra daylight hours, weekends at the pool, kids at camp, more
time outside than we ever have during the winter.
Accident rates increase in the summer—heat stroke, water
accidents, falls and cuts, yard work accidents, you name it. You know to call
9-1-1 when an emergency strikes, but sometimes, you can avoid that emergency by
taking precautions beforehand. And if the accident happens anyway, be prepared
to take action in those anxious moments before the ambulance arrives.
One thing that can always come in handy is CPR, or
cardiopulmonary resuscitation. All parents and caregivers should take this
course. You can get training from a variety of sources. Ask your doctor or other
healthcare provider to point you in the direction of a good CPR class.
Water safety—stick to the rules on this one
Children under 14 suffer 1,000 drownings every year. The American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends a structured series of swimming lessons for children
beginning at age 4. A Red Cross-sponsored course is a good choice: classes
include 36 hours of training, and an average teacher-to-student ratio of 1:6.
Water programs for children younger than four may be fun for the kids, but
shouldn’t be seen as a way to increase safety.
Other tips for parents of young children learning to swim:
- Do not rely on water floatation devices for safety—they
are strictly toys.
- Be confident in your own abilities in the water before
going in with a child.
- Encourage children to test the water at their own
pace—forcing can lead to fear.
- Make sure kids know they should never swim alone. Which
means that you should NEVER let your children swim without someone watching
right there, even if they’re expert swimmers.
- Make sure they know they should never go into water
they’re not familiar with.
If there is a water accident in your backyard, at the pool,
or at the beach, what should you do? Call 9-1-1 right away, and immediately
begin administering CPR.
Other water safety precautions:
► Safe diving guidelines
- Don’t dive in water if you know it’s less than six feet
- Don’t dive in water you’re not familiar with.
Following this simple advice can reduce your risk of
drowning and spinal cord injury. Waters unknown to you can be surprisingly
shallow, and a dive that takes a couple of seconds could have a drastic impact
on your life.
►Safety at the beach
For basic safety:
Don’t swim alone, even if you’re an extremely experienced swimmer
Follow the lifeguard’s advice, and be sure to swim within sight of the
Don’t let children out of your sight
Don’t swim during a thunder storm
Don’t take glass containers to the beach, and carry all your trash away
with you when you leave
To avoid illness due to water
► Avoiding E. coli when swimming
We tend to think of E. coli bacteria as something
we get from food, but you can get it from swimming as well. Follow these tips to
keep from getting and spreading E. coli:
- Babies in diapers shouldn’t swim when they have diarrhea
- Don’t swallow pool water, and try to keep it from
getting in your mouth
- Wash your hands after using the toilet and after
changing a baby’s diaper
- Take initiative with your child’s bathroom breaks. Don’t
wait until your hear, “I have to go to the bathroom,” because then it may be
- Change diapers only in the bathroom, not at the side of
► Avoiding swimmer’s ear
If you feel pain when you wriggle your ear, there’s a good chance that swimmer’s
ear is the problem. It’s common to get swimmer’s ear from pool water and other
water contaminated with the germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
To prevent swimmer’s ear:
Dry the ears after swimming, and apply a few drops of alcohol to the ear.
Make sure the water you swim in has the proper pH balance. Ask the manager at
your pool about that.
Avoid swimming in water that has been closed because of pollution.
Avoid putting objects in the ear, such as cotton swabs and fingers. You can
scratch the ear canal this way, making infection easier.
Safety on bikes
Following the rules of the road for cycling keeps everyone—kids and
adults—safer. Most childhood bicycle deaths occur for the following reasons:
- Riding into a street without stopping
- Turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming
- Not stopping at a stop sign
- Riding against the flow of traffic
The rules of the road are the same for cyclists as they are
for drivers: stop at stop signs, ride on the right side of the road, don’t make
a turn without making sure there are no cars coming, stop at red lights, etc.
► And remember this: children younger than 10 have
difficulty evaluating risk. Wait at least until age 10 before you consider
letting them ride unsupervised.
Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Camping Association; American Red Cross; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; K. Handal, The American Red Cross. First Aid and Safety Book. Little, Brown and Company, 1992; Marion County Children’s Services; Medical College of Wisconsin; National Highway Transportation Administration; The National Institutes of Health; National Safe Kids Foundation; The National Safety Council; Students Against Destructive Decisions; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;