Car Safety, Drowning
For many families, the Fourth of July weekend is the big kick-off to the summer season, which means cookouts, camp, games outside, family trips, and beach days are now a staple of life.
While you try to keep your eye on your little ones all the time, you can't be everywhere at once -- plus, there are some dangers that could happen right under your watch.
So how can you keep your child safe and healthy all summer long? Parents has expert tips to help.
Summer Car Safety
A child trapped inside a hot car can suffocate quickly. When it's 93 degrees F out, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees F in 20 minutes -- even with a window cracked. To protect your child:
- Never leave him in an unattended car, even if the windows are down.
- Always keep your car locked, even when it's in the driveway or garage.
- Keep automobile keys out of reach and out of sight of children.
- Teach older children how to disable child-resistant locks in case of emergency.
- Make sure your trunk or hatch is locked at all times.
- Keep rear fold-down seats closed so kids won't crawl into the trunk.
- Call your auto dealership about having your car refitted with a release mechanism inside the trunk.
- Must-Read: Car Seat Safety Check
Protection Against Drowning
Drowning remains the second leading injury-related killer of children ages one to 14. It claims more than 900 children's lives each year, with about 300 victims under the age of four. Practice these pool rules to ensure your child doesn't become a drowning victim:
- DO enroll your child in swimming lessons with a certified instructor between the ages of four and eight.
- DO install a fence around your pool. It should be at least five feet high and have a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- DO use a rigid safety cover when no one's in the pool. Avoid soft coverings like plastic sheets; if your child tries to walk on top, he could fall underneath.
- DO make sure children wear sneakers or rubber-sold shoes while walking on the deck, which can get slippery or too hot for bare feet.
- DON'T keep toys or clutter on the pool deck; a child could trip over something and fall into the water.
- DON'T let your kids push others, run, or play aggressively near the pool.
- DON'T let your children swim alone, and make sure your family knows what to do in an emergency; including whom to call and where to find rescue equipment.
Must-Read: Teach Your Child to Swim
When at the beach, following these safety guidelines:
- DO watch your child at all times, no matter how good a swimmer he is -- and even if he's playing shallow water. Unlike swimming pools, oceans can change conditions at any moment.
- DO make sure your child stays within the designated swimming area -- away from piers, pilings, and diving platforms.
- DO check the surf conditions every morning. Ask the lifeguard which potential hazards you should watch for that day.
- DON'T let your child use floatation devices or inflatable toys if she's not a strong swimmer; they could suddenly shift position, lose air, or slip out from underneath her.
Must-Read: First Aid for Drowning
And before you let your baby splash in a public or backyard baby pool, follow these tips:
- DO empty backyard pools every night. "Stagnant water can lead to a urinary-tract infection and can infect any cuts your child might have," says Jeanne James, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine, in New Orleans. Turn the empty pool over to drain so mosquitoes don't breed in it. This will also cut down risk of accidental drownings.
- DO be constantly vigilant about the danger of drowning. No baby or toddler, even one using a flotation device, should be left alone in or near a pool for even a minute. Let the phone ring, leave the door unanswered, and don't turn your head.
- DO be wary of taking our child to a public baby pool if she's under six months of age, because you don't know how clean the water is. If another child has diarrhea, for example, he can contaminate the pool water with E. coli bacteria, which can make your baby extremely sick. "Infants are more susceptible to gastrointestinal illnesses than older kids," Dr. James points out.
- DON'T forget about the safety of other children. Although special swim diapers are meant to prevent leakage of urine or feces, they don't do a perfect job. "If your child has diarrhea, she should not be in a public pool at all," Dr. James says.
Must-Read: Surprising New Research on Child Drownings