School’s out, Atlanta! The water parks and swimming pools are open, and, given the chance, many of your children will happily spend dawn to dusk on slides, swings, and inner tubes. But before you let the kids soak up all of those rays, we would like to remind you of a few simple summer safety tips.
“Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children age 14 and under,” said James Fortenberry, M.D., Pediatrician-in-Chief at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, who have launched their 2015 Summer Safety Series. “Summer is an exciting time for kids. With that excitement comes an added responsibility for parents and children to educate themselves on what they can do to ensure a safe and healthy summer.”
One thing to remember is “The Shadow Rule, which states that if your shadow is shorter than you are, than the sun’s UV rays are particularly intense and you need to be extra careful. That’s a good reminder to lather up with sunscreen, lather generously, and lather frequently. Wear sunglasses, give children wide-brimmed hats to wear, and stay in the shade as much as possible.
Remember that water, sand, and surfaces can reflect the sun and UV rays. Even if you’re under a shaded area at a water park, UV rays are still bouncing off practically everything around you and your family, even the magazine that the sunbather next to you is reading, so buy that sunscreen and use it.
It’s incredibly important to drink plenty of fluids during any outdoor activities, even if you’re not being especially active. Avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and cola, as these can lead to dehydration. Yes, even a nice, tall glass of sweet iced tea. Drink plenty of water if you’re going to be out and active for around an hour, and sports drinks like Powerade if you plan to be active for longer than that. Take frequent breaks to drink, and if you’re at a playground with a misting station, take advantage of it. Try to plan for playground trips before noon or in the early evening, and take breaks in shady spots. In the hotter afternoon hours, try to schedule indoor activities.
At the pool, before your children even get in to swim, remind them to take it slow and not run. We know, that’s an awful lot like asking the earth to stop turning, but remind them constantly. Make certain that at least one responsible adult is constantly supervising the activities. Try assembling a group of chaperones; we know that grown-ups want to relax and play and talk and have fun, too, but some of your party always needs to be completely focused on the kids, because drowning can occur in a matter of seconds. Tag team so that focus is always fresh.
Be especially alert for children inhaling pool water. Even a small amount of water in the lungs can be extremely dangerous, with drowning happening many hours later, often after the victim has gone to sleep. If you notice anyone coughing after being underwater, ask about it. If anyone mentions losing consciousness or memory after being underwater, they may have inhaled water without realizing it, and should be taken to an ER.
Finally, we wanted to remind everyone about car safety. Do not leave children unattended in a car for any amount of time, even with the windows rolled down. The temperature inside can rise to dangerous, life-threatening levels within minutes. Just as you would never leave a small child alone in a bathtub, never leave a child alone in a car.
We want everybody to have lots of fun this summer, but take a couple of minutes before you go outside to get water and other supplies together. Plan ahead and schedule your activities and remember to stay focused on the children in your care while you’re having a great summer!