Hello summer! With children out of school and families spending a lot of time together, that means more time in the outdoors, at sporting events, or enjoying recreational interests. That also means the risk for injuries is abundant. Therefore, it is essential to have safety conversations with our family members about summertime risks that could lead to danger. After you read this great list of safety tips for your family, check out the fun and free safety fair (with movies and popcorn!) at the bottom of this article.
Why do we want to discuss the risks? Hopefully, being prepared individually and as a family will help us mitigate and avoid unpleasant events. Safety conversations to have as a family can be related to 1) sun exposure, 2) water safety, 3) hydration and healthy activities, and 4) many other ways of increasing safety in the community.
1. Sun Exposure. Summer is hot. Physical harms that can take place from the hot sun are heatstroke and sunburns. There are several things we can do to stay safe from the heat of the sun. Overheating can occur for anyone, but mainly if someone participates in strenuous activities during hot weather. Symptoms of heatstroke can vary from slurred speech, rapid heart rate, headache, nausea, and increased body temperature. If someone shows signs of heatstroke after extreme physical activity it is essential to move them to a shady and cool location and seek immediate medical help.
Here are a few safety tips to avoid over-heating:
Never leave babies, infants, children, or pets in a parked car.
Dress for the weather; lightweight, light-colored clothing is excellent for a hot day.
Try to schedule outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, or walking in the morning and evening hours.
Stay cool with colder showers or baths.
Stay in air-conditioned locations as much as possible.
Constantly drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Remember that when you protect the skin from sunburn, not only are you preventing the immediate burns and blistering, but you are also preventing the severe sun exposure damage to the DNA coding in our skin cells that causes skin cancer over time.
Here are a few safety tips to prevent damaging sun exposure:
Seek shade often and when necessary
Wear a hat that is big enough to cover the face, scalp, ears, and neck
Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants can help cover and shield our skin from the sun
It is crucial to wear sunglasses too. Our eyes are an organ that can also become sunburnt.
A sun protection factor (SPF) should be applied daily and often. SPF comes in several forms, such as lotions, oils, and sprays.
2. Water Safety. Almost everyone enjoys spending time by or in a lake, river, or beach in the summertime. However, it is critical to teach young children the importance of water safety early. Drowning is still the leading cause of death in children ages one to four.
Different safety tips for instilling water safety can be as simple as:
Have a responsible adult always supervise children around the water.
Teach kids how to swim.
Know how to administer proper CPR. This life skill can be critical in several lifesaving variables.
During visits to various waterways, always wear a properly fitted life jacket.
3. Healthy Activities. Summer means that we have longer days and more hours in the day to enjoy the things we love to do. It is just as important to stay healthy in the summer as in other seasons.
Healthy habits in the summer are as easy as:
Designing meal plans catered towards healthy light food options. Food prepping can lead to fast snacks, easy cooking, and quick clean-up scenarios.
Remember to bring plenty of water to any activity.
Let exercise be a priority. Daily exercise can reduce stress levels, increase muscle tone, and strengthen the cardiovascular system.
Plan ahead for family vacations. Make lists and lay things out so you don’t forget anything. Being prepared ahead of time can reduce stress before traveling to the desired destination.
Create age-appropriate family chores and make sure everyone has done them.
4. Community Prevention. After all the chores are done and safety tips have been discussed and implemented, it is essential to have fun together as a family. Family bonding activities are some of the best ways to build protective factors that keep kids safe.
Here are a few ways to have fun with kids of all ages during the long summer months:
Wash the family car together
Have a water balloon toss.
Make soft sponge bombs.
Go swimming or run through the sprinklers.
Make slushies or ice pops.
Have a family movie night.
Make a campfire and cook s’mores.
Play board games or night games outside. Kick the can and capture the flag are still pretty fun.
Read together. It is an excellent way to create a solid close familial bond.
Let Utah State University Tooele extension office help! USU-Extension has many fun summer programs available for families through 4-H. The Health and Wellness team at USU-E also offers various free weekly pain education classes and support meetings. We hold suicide prevention trainings. In addition USU constantly provides health education promotion materials and prevention efforts in the community; just stop by our office to find out more at 151 N. Main St. in Tooele.
To kick off a fun, safe summer, we want to invite all Tooele families to attend our upcoming FREE sober tailgate party. This event will coincide with a children’s prevention fair and family movie night. The event will be at the Erda Ritz Drive-in, the evening of Tuesday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m. Space is limited to attend. Please go to the Eventbrite link at www.eventbrite.com/e/152733819967 and plug it into your phone or computer browser to sign up. Come prepared for fun. If you would like further safety tips on having safe summer fun, come visit us at the Tooele extension office. The tans will fade, but with safe planning the memories will last. Have a fun, safe summer.
Emily Hamilton is the Health Educator & Mentoring Coordinator at Utah State University Health & Wellness Extension.