Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 – 3:13 PM
With summer comes fun in the sun, beach outings, pool parties and outdoor adventures like camping, hiking, bicycling and skateboarding. What also comes is an increased risk for injuries and an increased need for awareness.
The specialists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) have compiled a list of helpful guidelines to ensure you and your family have an enjoyable and safe summer in the heat and in and around the water.
Risks of swimming tragedies increase in the summer. Two-thirds of drowning deaths occur in the summer, between May and August, and most commonly on the weekends.
• Give kids your undivided attention. Actively supervise children throughout the summer, whether it’s at the playground or in and around water. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
• When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher card strategy to designate an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision and give parents a chance to read, make phone calls or take a bathroom break.
• Every child is different, so enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. Whether swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time.
• Learn CPR. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.
• Teach children to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets, which can cause situations where kids can get stuck underwater.
• Always have children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Have the child make a “touchdown” signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
• Have your kids bring a water bottle to practice and games and drink plenty of water before, during and after play. This is especially important in summer months to avoid dehydration.
• It can be tempting to leave a child alone in a car while you quickly run into a store, but it can cause serious injury or even death in a matter of minutes. Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT – Avoid heatstroke, Create reminders, and Take action if you see a child left alone.
• In the U.S., drowning is the leading cause of death in children under 6. Children need 100 percent supervision when in or around water. That means no distractions like texting, reading a book or just running inside the house to make lunch.
• Practice “touch supervision” (a term used by the American Academy of Pediatrics). This means that at all times, the supervising adult is within an arm’s length of the child being watched, when near or in the water.
• Having your kids take formal swimming lessons is an essential measure to protect them from drowning.
• Remember that even good swimmers can drown in many different water sources including bathtubs, toilets, buckets, baby pools, backyard swimming pools, community pools, streams, creeks, lakes, rivers and oceans.
• For homeowners with a backyard pool, a fence at least five feet tall with an adult safety latch will prevent small children and animals from wandering near the edge of the pool and potentially falling in and drowning.
• Infants and children should wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
• Schedule outdoor activities in the morning and evening hours.
• Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
• When it comes to outdoor activities, remember a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life.
• The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes.
• The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Association of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.
• For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply as needed.
• Wear clothing that covers your and your child’s skin to help protect against UV rays, especially in places of high sun exposure such as the beach.
• Make sure you, your children and your pets are properly hydrated during the intense summer heat.