Summer Safety Tips

By Alana J. Arnold, MD, MBA
Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Jackson North Medical Center
Affiliated Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics
UM Miller School of Medicine

Summer is here! Kids are out of school. It’s time to start having fun! While summer means more time outdoors swimming, bike riding, and visiting playgrounds, it’s also a time for parents and caregivers to be extra alert. Outdoor play, hot weather, and water activities present potential threats to you and your child. Your family can help avoid a trip to the emergency room this summer by following these simple safety tips.

Staying Safe While Biking

  • Bike riding is exercise and fun all rolled into one, but ultimately, safety is most important.
  • Be sure to use headlights, taillights, and reflectors when you and your family ride at night.
  • Prevent head injuries by wearing a helmet, every single time. Remember, it’s the law!
  • Follow all traffic rules by paying close attention to traffic signals, signs, and street or sidewalk markings.
  • Ride single file. Don’t ride side by side on the road with your family. This behavior is dangerous and could result in injury.

Swimming Safety

  • Swimming is fun. But remember that kids, whether in or out of the water, need to be supervised at all times, even if they know how to swim.
  • An adult should be designated to supervise the kids and have EYES on the children, at all times
  • Only use FDA-approved floating devices for all toddlers and children
  • If you and your family are swimming in public areas, be sure to obey all rules and posted signs.
  • Don’t swim during a thunderstorm or lightning storm.
  • Only swim in pools and at beaches protected by an on-duty lifeguard.

Staying Safe in the Sun

  • The sun is strongest between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Do your best to stay out of direct sunlight during those hours.
  • For children over six months of age, use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Always apply sunscreen at least 30-45 minutes before going outside. Then reapply it every two hours.
  • Be sure to use sunscreen even if it’s cloudy or you’re in a shaded area.
  • Remember that babies less than six months of age should not be exposed to the sun.

Bug Bite Safety

  • Use a safe insect repellant with ingredients that include DEET, citronella, and soybean oil.
  • Avoid areas where bugs and flies congregate, such as gardens with flowers.
  • Avoid getting insect repellent into your eyes and mouth. Spray repellent on your hands first and then carefully rub it on your skin.
  • The worst time for bugs is in the early morning and early evening. Stay indoors or wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts during those times.

Staying Safe Around Fireworks

  • Talk to your child about how to stay safe around fireworks and go over the potential dangers.
  • Children should NEVER play with fireworks. Only adults should be responsible for lighting them.
  • Be sure to keep sparklers away from your family’s clothing, face, and hair.
  • Don’t point or throw fireworks at anyone, ever. Remember to keep fireworks away from your home, brush, and leaves.