It's summertime and the living is easy – but to enjoy the fun, be sure to head the most important summer safety tips. Here are some top summertime hazards to be aware of so you can make the most of the carefree moments with your preschooler while keeping your family happy all season long.
Upon Heading Out the Door
Before you even leave your house, no matter what the destination, make sure you are prepared for a day outside in the sun.
- Lather everyone up with sunscreen. For your preschooler, choose a product designed for children that has an SPF of at least 30 and make sure it is designed to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Pack a bag that includes extra sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, a small first-aid kit, plenty of water or other drinks, snacks, extra cash and your cell phone in case you need it.
- Make sure everyone is wearing appropriate clothing -- light colored, nothing too heavy and OK for the activity that is planned (you don't want your daughter in a strappy sundress and dress sandals if she'll be running around at the playground). If you are heading for the pool or beach, be sure to bring a change of clothing along with any gear you'll require like goggles or swim wings.
In Your Yard
If you have a pool and it isn't surrounded by a fence that locks, consider investing in one immediately. The fence should be four-sided and the gate should be self-closing and self-locking. The goal is to have a separate pool area so a child can't walk out the door or into your yard and right into the pool. On a hot day, a pool is very tempting for a young (or older) child and they don't have the reasoning skills to understand that swimming by themselves is not safe. Make it impossible for a child to access the pool without the assistance of an adult. And talk to your kids about water safety. Explain how they should never go in to any body of water with out a grown-up present. Even a child who has taken swimming lessons cannot be left alone near the water. There are just too many variables and things that can go wrong.
Make sure any outdoor containers that you have -- sheds, storage bins, trash cans, even the trunk of your car -- are closed and locked. As kids run and play outside, it can be tempting to hide in one of these types of places, but they can get hot very quickly. In only seconds a child can be trapped inside, leading to a potential tragedy.
In the Car
Most important: Never leave a child alone in the car. Aside from abduction dangers, in the summertime, car temperatures can soar very quickly -- even if it the temperature isn't ridiculously hot. Even with the windows down, a car can get very warm, very fast. Best bet, take your child with you, even if you are going into a store just for a minute.
At the Playground
Upon arrival, check out the equipment. Is everything anchored properly? Is the set in good shape? Look for sharp edges and open-ended hooks on swings. Make sure the surface that kids will be running (and possibly falling) on is cushioned -- common types include rubber mats, wood chips and sand. Touch everything. Is it too hot for bare skin to touch? Among my summer safety tips for the playground: If you have any doubts, find another place to play. If you have a swing set at home, give it a once-over as well.
At the Beach or Pool
Have a talk with your little one before leave your own house. Once she sees that inviting water, it's less likely she is going to listen to you. At the pool, there should be no running near the edge of the pool or jumping into the water (unless you are present). Make sure she knows the difference between the deep and shallow ends of the water and where she is allowed to go. No child should be in the water unless there is an adult on hand, even if your child knows how to swim or is wearing a floatation device. And if your child has been in the water for an hour or more, make sure you reapply her sunscreen -- even if it is a waterproof formula.
At a Crowded Amusement Park or Other Venue
If you are headed to a place where you know there will be lots of crowds, review some ground rules before you get there. Make sure your child knows what to do in case you get separated or lost from one another. Teach him to look for a person who can help them like a uniformed police officer, park worker or even a mother with children. Pick a spot upon your arrival and designate it as your meeting place in case someone gets lost.
With a little common-sense caution you and your preschooler can have the best summer ever!