For many kids, summer is the most active time of the year. Summer vacation and warm sunny weather makes it easy to spend hours every day outside. Unfortunately, beautiful weather can also bring a false sense of security with it. Keeping kids safe is a full-time endeavor for parents, even when everything seems perfect.
While sunny weather isn’t explicitly dangerous, letting your guard down can have painful consequences for your little ones. To ensure that their, and your, summer are as great as the weather, it’s important to watch out for a few potential hazards.
1. Hot metal
To stay comfortable in the summertime, we tend to dress with a lot of exposed skin. While this keeps us cool most of the time, it can also lead to burns. Swing sets commonly have exposed metal surfaces all over the place. Nuts and bolts, railings, and even the chains on which the swing is mounted are likely to be made of steel. Under direct sunlight, these can reach incredibly high temperatures that can easily burn skin if your child grabs or sits on them.
To avoid this issue, make sure that shorts are long enough to allow kids to comfortably sit without touching their legs to the sitting surface. Additionally, ensure that hand railings are insulated with plastic, or painted a light color that doesn’t absorb sunlight well. Swings should ideally be mounted on ropes rather than chains, which won’t heat up nearly as much.
During the summertime, dehydration and heat exhaustion are serious concerns, and parents need to be proactive about preventing them. Kids aren’t always on top of their bodies’ needs, and may not know why they’re feeling bad, even if they’re aware that something is wrong. Because of this, parents should ensure that outdoor play during the summer is interrupted regularly with water breaks.
To spot dehydration early, keep an eye out for kids who seem more tired than their playmates, who don’t seem to be sweating very much despite heat and exertion, or who complain of headaches. If you suspect that someone is suffering from dehydration, get them out of the sun immediately, make sure that they drink plenty of liquids, and consider seeking medical attention if symptoms don’t improve quickly.
While some parents religiously ensure that their kids apply sunscreen all summer long, many of us just don’t even think of it unless we’re on a beach. In some parts of the country, sunlight can be very intense, causing sunburns in as little has a half hour. It’s also important to remember that your kids’ skin will begin to suffer sun damage and increase their risk of developing skin cancer even if they don’t get sunburned. Not only can you protect them from sunburns today, you can help them build habits that will protect them decades later.