Summer of Fun and Safety
What a scorcher of a July we've had so far, and it the temperatures don't look to be letting up anytime soon. Michigan summers are the perfect time to spend some quality time outdoors, but it is essential to consider safety outside, especially with little ones. We've compiled some tips and resources below to make sure you can get the most out of the rest of this summer while doing it safely!
In the Sun
How can I protect my children from the sun? (CDC)
Seek shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it's best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent. Use these options to prevent sunburn, not to seek relief after it's happened.
Cover up. When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors. Some clothing certified under international standards comes with information on its ultraviolet protection factor.
Get a hat. Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give excellent protection. Baseball caps are popular among kids, but they don't protect their ears and neck. If your child chooses a cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.
Wear sunglasses. They protect your child's eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
Apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don't forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet. Reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
In the Water
The wonderful staff of Spectrum Health and Helen DeVos Children's Hospital have put together some fantastic resources for parents. Check out this thorough guide here and 2020 Health Beath article here.
Practice home water safety
- The greatest risk for kids under 4 is accidental water entry.
- If a child can get to water of any kind, there is a significant risk.
- Swimming pools and spas must be securely covered and kept off-limits with fencing and secure gates around a pool. A small child can slip under many pool covers.
- Check gate latches to make sure unsupervised children can't access the area.
- Treat a shallow kiddie pool with the same deference.
Beach and open water safety
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 10 children die per day from water-related incidents in America.
- Families living near the Great Lakes and other inland lakes may be at even higher risk.
- Enjoying the beach is fantastic family fun — practicing a few safety precautions will make sure the day stays fun!
Creeks, rivers, and boating
- Creeks and rivers add a potentially dangerous element.
- The current can sweep a child out of reach and out of sight quickly.
- Never allow play on the banks without a watchful adult for every child.
- Properly fitting life jackets, barricaded play areas, and even the controversial toddler leads can prevent a tumble into the water.
Know what to do in an emergency
- Learn first aid and CPR.
- Bring a cell phone with you or know where to find the nearest phone.
- Dial 911 in an emergency.
- Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger, like "reach and throw." Reach out to someone in trouble in the water while holding on to something stable. If you can't reach them, throw them something that floats.
Don't want to risk it? Splash pad it!
- The Greater Grand Rapids area has some of the best splash pads around, and our friends at GR Kids have put together this full guide list just for you!
More water safety tips
- Observe proper pool and water behavior: no pushing, running, or diving in shallow areas.
- Don't depend on flotation devices or swimming lessons.
- Keep a cell phone handy in case of an emergency, but don't talk on it while supervising.
- Know CPR — this will be helpful in a water or non-water emergency.
- After your kids have finished playing in the pool for the day, be sure to remove all pool toys and put them away. Children have drowned while trying to retrieve items left in the pool.
- Teach kids never to swim alone. Using the buddy system means there's always someone looking out for you.
- Watch out for weeds and grass that could entangle a leg or arm in a lake.
- Assign a designated driver who won't consume alcohol when boating.
- Teach kids never to swim close to a pier because sudden water movements may cause swimmers to collide with them.
On a Bike
There are so many great reasons to ride your bike: It offers fun, freedom, and exercise, and it's good for the environment. We want kids and families to ride their bikes as much as possible. Here are a few tips so that you'll be safe while you do so.
Wear a properly-fitted helmet. It is the best way to prevent head injuries and death.
Ride on the sidewalk when you can. If not, ride in the same direction as traffic as far on the right-hand side as possible.
Use hand signals and follow the rules of the road. Be predictable by making sure you ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between cars.
Wear bright colors and use lights, especially when riding at night and in the morning. Reflectors on your clothes and bike will help you be seen.
Ride together. Stick together until you are comfortable that your kids are ready to ride on their own.