Sizzling Summer Safety for Tots

From Issue: 
Vol LII No. 3, July 2008

Summer activities are healthy, fun and memorable. They should not be memorable due to a near injury, a broken arm set in a cast or a more serious tragedy. Take the precautions necessary to enjoy your summer in safety. Your children have grown some since last summer, so be aware that they may be able to reach things, that they could not reach last summer (e.g. BBQ knobs, lawn fertilizer or other toxic products, window ledges, stored power tools or other dangerous items, fence latches and locks, etc.).

Here are some important safety tips:

Barbecues and Bonfires

What is summer without barbecues and bonfires? Here are a couple things to keep in mind when enjoying these summer traditions.

  • Children should be kept at a safe distance from the barbecue. Be sure that the barbecue is properly maintained and used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. (Take the Kwiz Korner challenge on Propane safety ).
  • Bonfires need to have clear and safe boundary lines. Children can easily trip and tumble into hot coals and suffer severe injuries. Keep the area clear of clutter and supervise the children. Involve the children by getting them to design a circle of stones around the bonfire, to identify the “hot area” off-limits.
  • Remember roasted marshmallows are very hot and teach children how to safely enjoy this summer treat. This means allowing the marshmallow to cool before eating and refraining from waving the stick in the air to put out a flame. A hot, flying marshmallow can cause a nasty burn.
  • Keep matches, lighters and lighter fluids as well as other harmful substances locked up, away from children’s reach.
  • Finally, make sure that after the fun, the barbecue and gas are properly turned off and the bonfire is thoroughly extinguished. Remain vigilant as these areas continue to be dangerous hot spots.

Sun, Glorious Sun

Keep children covered up as much as possible with lightweight cotton clothing. Wearing a T-shirt will protect the shoulders and back when spending time in the sun… consider keeping a T-shirt on, even when playing in the water.

  • Wear sun screen (at least SPF 15), sunglasses and a large brim hat. Reapply sunscreen after swimming and/or every two hours. Avoid exposure during the peak hours between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Infants should be kept out of direct sunlight. Consult your pediatrician about safe sun protective products. Stick with hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products.
  • Never, ever leave a child alone in a car. Their core temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult. It is NEVER safe to leave a child alone in a car for ANY amount of time.

Window Warnings

Since your children are taller and more mobile than last summer, please be aware that tipping out of an open window can occur in a swift and tragic moment. Of course your windows will be open in seasonably warm weather, so invest in a safety device to deter or prevent children from falling through open windows.

  • Bug screens keep bugs out and are not designed to keep children in.
  • Remove objects such as furniture (including beds) away from underneath the window. This removes climbing access.
  • Never leave a child alone in a room with an open window.

Giving a Helping Hand Outdoors

When kids are helping out with outdoor duties such as gardening, be sure that the activity is age-appropriate.

  • Most regular garden tools are too sharp, large and difficult to handle for young children and should only be used by adults. You can find gardening tools designed especially for youngsters.
  • When mowing the lawn, children should not be in the yard. Children under the age of 12 should not be allowed to use any lawn mower and children under the age of 16 should not drive a ride-on mower. Do not leave the ignition keys in the mower and never leave the mower running unattended.
  • A proper sweep of the area to be mowed should be done prior to mowing. Let children help out by searching for branches, debris and toys hidden in the grass.

Biking with Brains

It is unavoidable… kids will fall off bikes. Protect the brain by wearing a helmet. It reduces the risk of serious head injury by 70 to 85 per cent.

  • Make it a non-negotiable rule for all family members to bicycle with the helmet properly fastened. Parents have to show the good example.
  • Helmets must also be worn when using skateboards and in line skates. It is important to wear proper safety gear: wrist guards, knee and elbow pads.
  • Allow your kids to participate in the purchase of safety gear. Let them pick out a style and colour that they enjoy and make sure it fits, is comfortable to wear and meets Canadian safety standards. You will have more success at having your kids comply, if you make the storage of safety gear, easy and accessible.