While we all love the freedom that summer brings, it also means more outdoor events and activities where our kids are less supervised. Big crowds, parades, pool parties, sporting events- all promise a super fun time but it’s hard to keep an eye on our kids the whole time. Here are some tips for keeping your kids safe while out and about this summer.
Easy Identification notecard
If you know you’re going somewhere with big crowds, take a notecard and write your name, the name of your child, and your phone number. Then, put that paper in your child’s pocket and tell them, “If you ever get lost or can’t find me, find a trustworthy adult (define what that is) and show them this piece of paper so they can find me.” Alternatively, if your child is carrying a backpack, you can clip the postcard to the inside pouch.
Teach your children their address and your phone number. We started doing this around age 4-5, and it was actually homework in my son’s Kindergarten class! We set both to a catchy tune so they can remember it more easily, and we practice all the time so it feels natural and easy to recall.
Set a game plan
If you’re going somewhere together, before you set off, brainstorm a meet-up location in case you get separated. Pick something permanent and easy to spot from a child’s height.
Remind them about stranger danger
It’s important for kids to know, even from a young age, never to talk to strangers or walk off with them. I advise my kids that good adults will never ask a kid for help, so if an adult is asking them to help with something (anything!), it’s probably a “sneaky adult” who is trying to trick them and to walk away or say no thank you. I also teach my kids that if a stranger ever offers them candy they should find me and I will give them double the standing offer. We even role play this sometimes so the kids get turns acting out how they would respond in the moment.
Teach pool safety
According to the CDC, about 800 children die every year from drowning. Drowning is a very real risk and something that is almost always avoidable. Review the following rules with your children to keep them safe this summer:
- Always stay within an arm’s reach of young children or poor swimmers (yes, that means you need to get into the pool!)
- Teach children to always ask for permission before going near any body of water
- Always have a swim buddy
- Don’t rely on another child (or sibling!) to keep an eye on your child
- If you are around water and your child is missing, always check the water first! Every second counts!
- Do not use floaties as a substitute for supervision. They have been proven not only to not be safe but can actually increase your child’s likelihood of drowning.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, even one blistering sunburn as a child can double your chance of developing melanoma. So always put sunscreen or sunblock on your child at least 15 minutes before heading outside. Whenever possible, provide shade for your child using an umbrella, wide-brimmed hats and loose clothing with long sleeves. And remember, kids under 6 months of age cannot use sunscreen; talk to your pediatrician if you have further questions.
Help your kids stay hydrated
If your child tells you they are thirsty, that means they are already dehydrated (the same goes for you!) So offer your kids water before going outside and at frequent intervals while playing. Keep reusable water bottles filled and easily available so kids can help themselves at any time. Each of our kids has their own water bottle (picked out at Target of course!) which makes them more excited to drink up.
Never leave your child unattended in the car
Cars can increase in temperature by ten degrees per minute in certain climates, so this message could save your child’s life. Even the best parents can be forgetful for a moment, so establish a system to help you always remember you have a child in the car. We recommend putting your purse, bag, or cell phone in the back seat next to your child so that you always have a reason to notice them when you arrive at your destination.
Teach kids a phrase like, “My body is my own.” This simple phrase reminds kids that it’s their body and no one else can touch it or tell them to do things with it if they don’t want to. I know this is an icky subject to think about, but teaching this to our kids empowers them and encourages us to review which touches are or are not ok.
How to treat stings and bites
To avoid bee stings, dress your kids in muted clothing and keep their hands clean! Insects are attracted to bright colors and sticky fingers and mouths. If your child is unfortunate enough to be stung by a bee or other insect, avoid the urge to remove the stinger with tweezers; that might just push it further into the skin. Instead, grab a credit card and scrape gently to push the stinger out in the direction in which it entered the skin. As long as your child is having only a mild reaction, you can treat it with baking soda paste, toothpaste, apple cider vinegar, or an antihistamine cream like Benadryl.
Call 911 if your child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, such as having hives, pale skin, intense itching, swelling of tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or loss of consciousness.
Keep these tips in mind and you will be sure to enjoy your summer days to the fullest!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 4, 2018, and was lightly edited prior to republishing.