Summertime is what sunny childhood memories are made of, but it also brings some new safety hazards for babies, toddlers, and kids. Just like you baby-proof your home and keep your eye on what household items pose risks to your little one(s), it’s important to be aware of the unique risks that go hand-in-hand with summer fun.
We’re all for embracing summer and making the most of more time outdoors, in the sun, at the playground, and by the water—we just want to do it as safely as possible. That’s why we’re sharing a list of common safety hazards to avoid this summer. Let’s help each other keep our kids as safe as they are happy this summer. Check it out below, and let us know on Instagram what you’d add to the list.
Hot Water From Outdoor Hoses
A water hose that has been sitting outside in the heat, especially in direct sunlight, can contain extremely hot water. Even if it feels empty, there may be leftover water from the last use that has reached scalding temperatures in the sun. Children can (and have) received second-degree and third-degree burns from hot water inside hoses.
The best way to avoid this is to store hoses indoors. You also want to ensure that the hose is completely drained before you put it away, or use a hose wheel so that water is emptied every time. When you first turn the hose on, it’s a good idea to aim the water away from any people or animals before checking to make sure it is a safe temperature.
Kids Left in Unattended Vehicles
Sadly, every year there are accidental deaths because children are left in hot cars. It may seem like it could never happen to you, but vehicles heat up quickly, and a child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than adults. Not to mention that heatstroke deaths can happen in cars that are parked in shaded areas and in temperatures as low as 57 degrees, even with the windows cracked.
The first and most important thing you can do is never leave a child unattended in a car for any reason, even for a minute. Other precautions you can take include:
- Checking the back seat every time you get out of your car
- Setting a reminder in the front seat, like one of their toys or stuffed animals
- Putting an important item in the back seat, like your phone, wallet, or purse
- Asking school or daycare to call you if your child does not arrive
- Locking your car at home, too—kids can climb in and become trapped without your knowledge
As a bystander, if you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911 for help.
Blankets Used as Sunshades
Thin swaddle blankets may seem safe to completely drape over a car seat or stroller seat, but even the thinnest blankets can actually limit airflow and cause the temperatures inside the seat to rise to dangerous levels. Instead of covering them up with a swaddle or other thin blanket, consider:
- Using the car seat or stroller seat canopy if yours has one
- Attaching a fan to the stroller or car seat handle (only when the car seat is not in the car)
- Applying sunscreen for babies 6 months and older
- Dressing them in lightweight, UV-protective clothing
- Attaching a stroller umbrella
- Buying a mesh, UV-protective, and see-through cover
Inadequate Sun Protection for Young Babies
Sunscreen isn’t necessarily the answer for babies under 6 months. Instead, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight. This is because younger babies don’t yet sweat as adults do, and they are more prone to overheating and heat stroke. Their delicate and thin skin also burns more easily in the sun and is more likely to see side effects from sunscreen, like irritation or rash. That said, sunscreen can be applied to small areas of the skin that are uncovered by clothing or hats on babies younger than 6 months, according to the AAP.
A portable sunshade is a great option if you know you’ll be somewhere with little shade. Umbrellas or canopies can work, too, but the AAP notes that on reflective surfaces, these options may only reduce ultraviolet radiation exposure by 50 percent.
Riding Down the Slide with Your Child
If you’re a parent, your child has probably asked you to ride down the slide with them at the park before. While this might seem like a fun and harmless activity, their foot can easily catch the side of the slide when going down on someone’s lap, and the twisting force may lead to a broken leg. In fact, the majority of injuries on slides by infants and toddlers are broken legs caused by sliding down on someone else’s lap. If your little one isn’t comfortable going on the slide by themselves yet, it’s best to just sit it out until they are—or offer to hold their hand as they go down.
Hot Campfire Coals
This one might seem obvious, but we’re not only talking about campfires that are going or have recently been put out. While you do want to keep children at least 3 feet away from a burning campfire, it’s also important to keep them away from the embers. In fact, 70 percent of campfire burns are caused by embers rather than flames, according to the American Burn Association. And fire pits can retain heat that’s hot enough to cause a severe burn up to 12 hours after being extinguished—that means last night’s campfire could still be dangerous the next morning.
To completely put out a campfire, you want to drown it with water and stir around the fire area with a shovel to wet any remaining embers or ash, turning wood and coals over to wet everything. Then, smother the fire with dirt or sand, mixing it around to cover it completely.
For many people, trampolines are something of a childhood staple. Still, trampolines are risky for injuries to kids—so much so that the AAP strongly discourages using trampolines at home. We don’t want to be a total buzzkill, but it’s important to know the risks so that if your kids do jump on a trampoline, they can do it as safely as possible.
Nets and padding can help prevent some trampoline-related injuries, but they do not prevent injuries on the trampoline mat, according to the AAP. Other things than can make a trampoline safer include:
- Placing the trampoline on a level surface away from any surrounding hazards
- Regularly inspecting the protective padding and net enclosure and replacing any damaged parts
- Allowing only one person on the trampoline at a time
- Not allowing somersaults or flips
- Having an adult supervise and enforce rules
- Checking your homeowners insurance policy to ensure it covers trampoline-related claims (if not, a rider may be needed)
Using the Wrong Life Jacket
Swimming and boating are fun summertime activities, and with the right gear, they can be enjoyed safely. The AAP recommends that children always wear life jackets when they’re around natural bodies of water like lakes or rivers—whether they’re in them, on them, or just near them. Babies and children who can’t swim or aren’t very strong swimmers should also wear life jackets near pools and water parks.
Use only life jackets that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. You can find this label on the inside of the jacket. There are three types of life jackets:
- Type 1 Life Jacket: floats best and is designed to turn someone who is unconscious in the water to a face-up and slightly backward position. It’s designed for open water and oceans and comes in just two sizes—one for adults more than 90 pounds and one for children less than 90 pounds.
- Type 2 Life Jacket: can also turn a person upright and slightly backward, but not as much as Type 1. It comes in many sizes for children.
- Type 3 Life Jacket: designed for people to use in calm, inland water. The U.S. Coast Guard has also approved a puddle jumper to be worn in place of a Type 3 life jacket in calm, shallow water.
Life jackets are labeled by type, who they’re made for (e.g., children or adults), and weight. Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child, not loose, and worn as instructed with all straps fastened. Life jackets for infants and small children should have padded head support to help keep their heads above water. Be sure to check local regulations as some areas require kids to wear life jackets with the heads-up design on boats until they reach a certain age.
While life jackets certainly help, they aren’t meant to replace adult supervision around water. The AAP also suggests designating an adult as a “water watcher” who is in charge of paying close and constant attention to kids in the water.