KIDS IN THE KITCHEN
March 20, 2019
BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY!
March 20, 2019

SUMMER OUTDOOR SAFETY

WORDS: Bridget Stack from WWW.CONSUMERSAFETY.ORG

Children and babies are curious, a good trait that should be encouraged and guided in the right direction. However, that curiosity can sometimes put infants and kids in danger, especially if we are not careful to maintain a safe environment around them.

There are dangers present in a variety of situations, whether it be playing in the backyard, park, hiking in the forest, natural disasters, approaching strangers, or even being around domestic and wild animals.

Knowledge is power, and by arming ourselves with the proper information, we have a better chance at avoiding these dangers, and how to react when we find ourselves in them.

YARDS

Yards can be a safe space for children to play and explore, but the space should be assessed for potential hazards. Following these guidelines can help you maintain a safe yard at your home:

  • Supervision can prevent a lot of injuries and accidents. Never leave a child unattended near a busy street.
  • Herbicide and pesticide directions should be followed carefully. Don’t allow a child to play on treated areas for at least 48 hours.
  • Know your toxic plants – plants are a leading cause of poisoning in young children. Contact the Poison Control Help Line if you have any questions about different plants (1-800-222-1222) and request a list of poisonous plants. If you have poisonous plants, either remove them or create a barrier between the plant and the child. Teach children to never pick up and eat anything without consulting an adult first.
  • Never put children on an active riding lawn mower. The safest place for children is inside or in a different space than where the lawn mower is running.
  • When cooking outdoors, always be aware of where children are in relation to the cooking equipment. Teach them that the cooking surfaces are hot just as the stove inside the house is hot.

Parks and Playgrounds

Parks and playgrounds are a perfect way to get our children outside and moving. They are set up to be mostly child friendly and fun. Familiarizing ourselves with any dangers and ways to prevent or react to those dangers will allow for a much safer playing experience.

Following these guidelines can help prevent many accidents and injuries in parks and playgrounds:

  • Supervision is critical to preventing most park and playground injuries.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and look for potential dangers, such as open bodies of water like lakes or ponds that aren’t fenced off.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious people who make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Watch out for unknown animals.
  • If it’s a hot day, check the temperature of the play equipment. If it is hot to the touch, it is too hot to use safely.
  • Check the grounds for broken glass or other hazardous objects that could be stepped or fallen on.
  • Follow the age suggestions for play equipment and be close by to assist if your child needs help.
  • Make sure the surface under the playground equipment is appropriate. Sand, wood chips, mulch, and shredded rubber are all safe surfaces. Grass, concrete and asphalt are not.
  • Teach children playground safety, and review safety instructions and guidelines before each playground session.

SUN

Playing outside on a sunny day is a great way to soak up some Vitamin D. It doesn’t take much exposure to gain more than is needed, and sun damage can happen quickly. Repeated unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage, skin cancer, eye damage, and immune system suppression. Prevention is key in preventing sun damage.

Following these guidelines can help prevent dangerous levels of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays:

  • Avoid exposure during peak times. In summer, the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF between 30 and 50. Ideally, apply the first coat 15 – 30 minutes before going outside, then reapply every 2 hours (more frequently if sweating or swimming).
  • For children under 6 months, sunscreen isn’t safe. Shade is the best option for protecting a little one’s skin from damage.
  • When being in the sun is necessary, wear a long-sleeved, light cotton shirt and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Sunglasses that protect against UV rays are ideal to protect the eyes for damage.
  • A rash guard with UV protection in it is also a good option for protecting the skin without having to apply sunscreen.
  • Hydration is important when out in the sun for long periods of time. Encourage children to drink water frequently.

WEATHER

Natural disasters can strike at any time. Preparing ourselves and our children for these events can sometimes prevent serious injury. Weather disasters include, but aren’t limited to, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and snowstorms.

  • Teach children how to call for help and when to use emergency numbers.
  • Create a family disaster plan that discusses the dangerous weather that can happen in your area.
  • Tell children where to go during a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.
  • Teach children to recognize danger signals like smoke detectors or community sirens.
  • In case of separation, have one or more out-of-state contacts to check in with to aid in finding other family members.
  • If your child is old enough, help them memorize the name and phone number of emergency contacts.
  • Create a first aid and disaster kit together with essentials like food, water, and emergency items for several days.

PLANTS

Nature is all around us. Whether playing in the backyard or out on a trail in the forest, being able to identify dangerous plants can reduce the occurrence of irritations like poison ivy, as well as prevent poisoning from ingesting toxic plants.

Following these guidelines will allow your child to become familiar with safe versus toxic plants, as well as prevent them from harm by contact or ingestion of toxic plants:

  • Know your toxic plants – plants are a leading cause of poisoning in young children. Research and familiarize yourself with poisonous plants.
  • Teach children different plants so that they can identify what is safe and what isn’t.
  • Instruct children to never pick up and eat anything without consulting an adult first. 
  • When hiking in the forest with children, stick to the trail as much as possible. Typically, trails will have lower risk of toxic plants.
  • Explain to children that they should never eat any plant without first getting approval from a knowledgeable caregiver. This is especially important if you have a home garden and the child is used to picking and eating straight from the ground.
  • If you have poisonous plants in or around your home, either remove them or create a barrier between the plant and the child.
  • Contact the Poison Control Help Line if you have any questions about different plants (1-800-222-1222) and request a list of poisonous plants.

PETS & WILD ANIMALS

Cuddly creatures will always attract children. Their impulse isn’t to assess if the animal is safe; their impulse is to go to it and try and interact with it. Children are usually unaware of the dangers of pets and wild animals, so it is a parent’s job to teach them proper pet handling and dangers to watch for to prevent serious injuries or death.

Following these guidelines will provide children with the tools to keep them safe around animals – wild or domesticated:

  • Always supervise when children and house pets are together – even the most trusting pet has its limits and can cause an injury within a moment.
  • Teach children that it is never okay to touch animals while they are eating or sleeping, as they can become startled and aggressive, even unintentionally.
  • Inform children about pet body language and signs for when an animal may be feeling annoyed, scared, or angry.
  • Instruct children to never approach an unknown animal.
  • Never startle a pet or pet it from behind.

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