13 Jul 2015

Tips for a Fun and Safe Summer

Tips for a Fun and Safe Summer

Author: Meg Utz  /  Categories: Parenting , Traveling With Autism   /  Rate this article:
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Summer is a fantastic time of year to be a kid. It is a nice long break from school, it’s finally warm enough to swim – in most parts of the country, at least – and there’s just so much to DO! But there are a lot of little annoyances that come along with it. Bug bites, sunburn, sand that just doesn’t seem to come off. Itchy skin from sunscreen, slimy ladder rungs at the lake, the hot cement on the pool deck. These sensory stimuli are not just an annoyance, but can be dangerous.

The following safety tips are helpful during the dog days of July and August. Remember to pay careful attention, instead of relying on self-reporting from your children.

Outdoor Safety

  • Bring food and water, especially if you’ll be outdoors for a while (hiking or at the zoo).
  • Wear loose, breathable clothing.
  • Be conscious of wildlife.
  • Know what to do if someone gets lost (provide your child with a whistle or a special device for individuals who tend to wander off.

Itchy Skin


  • Learn to identify poison ivy, poison oak. and poison sumac and avoid the areas where they grow.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to help avoid itchy skin.


  • Wash skin right away.
  • Take a shower, not a bath.
  • Consult a physician.

Bites & Stings


  • Avoid insect breeding grounds, such as stagnant water.
  • Frequently check for ticks.
  • Use insect repellant.
  • Keep your skin covered.
  • Do not disturb bee, wasp, or hornet nests.

 Seek medical attention if you or someone in your group experiences:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Redness/hives
  • Swelling
  • Throat closing
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Muscle aches/cramps
  • Weakness
  • Fever

Sun Safety

  • If your shadow is shorter than you are, sun rays are especially dangerous.
  • Use SPF 30 “broad spectrum coverage” or greater while swimming; make sure it is water-resistant.
  • Apply 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to the entire body, and reapply every two hours; after excessive sweating or swimming, reapply every 90 minutes.
  • Wear a wide-brim hat, long sleeves, and sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
  • Minimize your exposure to the sun between 10am and 4pm.
  • If you need to be outdoors, stay in the shade.
  • Newborns under six months cannot wear sunscreen, so keep them out of the sun.
  • Remember that cloud cover can still be dangerous as it allows 70-80% UV penetration.

Heat Illness Prevention

  • Signs include cramps, high body temperature, red-hot dry skin or heavy sweating, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, confusion, paleness, loss of consciousness.
  • Stay hydrated with water or drinks rich in electrolytes.  Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Dress in light-colored, loose, and lightweight clothing.
  • Use sunscreen of at least SPF 30.
  • Schedule activities around the heat.
  • Instruct children on the importance of cooling off.
  • NEVER leave a child in a car, even with the windows down.
  • Schedule warm-ups and cool-downs around exercise.

Summer Sports Safety

  • Schedule workouts at cooler times of day, and include water breaks every 30 minutes.
  • Include time for warm-ups and cool-downs (shade, ice, or a kiddie pool).
  • Keep an eye on those at risk: kids who have suffered from heat stroke in the past, are taking cold or allergy medications.

Preventing Dehydration

  • Never rely on only thirst.
  • For children under 90 pounds: 5 ounces for every 20 minutes.
  • For children over 90 pounds: 8 ounces for every 20 minutes.
  • Drink water if the activity lasts less than one hour, but consider a beverage high in electrolytes if activity lasts longer.

Water Safety


  • Don’t be overconfident in swimming abilities.
  • Eliminate drowning hazards by installing safety devices/fences around pools.
  • Play safely: no running, pushing, or jumping on others.


  • Swim at a lifeguard-protected beach within a designated swimming area.
  • Check local weather conditions.
  • Swim sober.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Test water depth before diving in headfirst.
  • Remember that even in shallow water, waves can cause a loss of footing.
  • Keep a lookout for aquatic life! Avoid patches of plants. Leave animals alone.

Rip Currents:

  • If caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight it.
  • Swim parallel to shore until out of the current, then swim to shore.
  • If you can’t swim to shore, float or tread water until out of the current, then swim to shore.
  • If you feel you can’t make it to shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
  • Stay at least 100 feet from piers and jetties.
  • If someone is in trouble in the water, notify a lifeguard or call 9-1-1 and throw the victim something that floats and instruct them on how to escape the current.
  • Check conditions before entering the water! Look for warning flags or ask a lifeguard about possible hazards.

Boat: Life jackets on open water: check age restrictions with your state.

  • Safe diving: NO DIVING in water less than 9 feet deep.
  • Swim in safe areas like bays, not in the middle of a channel.
  • Don’t allow children under the age of 14 to drive the boat.
  • Know CPR.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks Alternatives:

  • Glow sticks/necklaces
  • Noisemakers
  • Bubbles
  • Paint (paper, chalk, streamers)
  • Decorating foods with patriotic designs


Sources: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, www.choa.org; The Red Cross, www.redcross.org



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