Summer is right around the corner. It’s a time for fun in the sun, vacations and, of course, no school. Whether your kids are home for summer, on the road with you or away at camp, we have some tips to keep your family safe and healthy.
There’s a higher risk of certain injuries occurring during the summer months. Kids are out of school and active, families are traveling and trying new activities, and everyone’s attention is more relaxed — which isn’t always a good thing when it comes to safety.
Being prepared can help reduce safety risks.
Here’s what you need to know so you can be aware of the risks, take precautions, and share some important safety tips with your kids. Together, we can ensure your family is as safe as possible while enjoying the fun and new adventures summertime can bring.
1. Beat the Heat (and Sun)
Preventing heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion, is important for people of all ages, but extreme heat poses the greatest risk for people under age 4 and over 65. The best ways to protect yourself from heat include:
- Staying cool — Find air-conditioning during hot hours and wear cool clothing.
- Stay Hydrated — Drink plenty of liquids, specifically water.
- Stay Informed — Pay attention to heat advisories.
Sunburn is a common summertime injury. Unprotected skin can be burned by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, but can take up to 12 hours for the skin to show the damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when its UV rays are at their highest level. Sunscreen is recommended for anyone working and playing outside in the summer, even on cloudy days. Be sure to use SPF 15 or higher, and reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or toweling off. For extra protection, it is recommended to use hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves.
2. Keep Your Head Above Water
Swimming — one of the most popular activities in the country — is a fun, active, and healthy way to spend summer leisure time. Every year, millions of people visit “recreational water” sites such as swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, lakes, rivers or oceans. But water safety isn’t just about keeping kids safe in the pool. There are things you might not think about — such as catchment ponds, drainage ditches and runoff areas in your neighborhood — that can be hazards, as well. It’s important for parents to know about how to protect kids, avoid risks, and respond in an emergency.
- Pool Safety — PA Department of Health
- Water Safety — Kids Health
- Drowning Facts — CDC
- Drowning is Preventable: Tips for Safety In and Around Water — Pool Safely
- Make a Splash: Swallowing Water in Inactive Waters Can Make You Sick — CDC
- Diarrhea and Swimming — CDC
3. Look Before You Lock
Never leave a child, older adult, or pet in a car unattended — not for a few minutes, not with the window cracked, not in the shade. Never. Leaving loved ones alone in a car can lead to serious injury or death from heatstroke. It takes only minutes for a vehicle to heat up and become deadly. Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. A change in a schedule, being overly tired or distracted, or even a new pattern of behavior can cause a caring parent or caregiver to put a child at risk. Find more information in the links below to keep your loved ones safe:
- Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock — PA Promise for Children
- Child Heatstroke Prevention — National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Kids are Dying in Hot Cars — National Security Council (NSC)
4. Beware of Bugs
Tick populations are at an all-time high, raising the risk of dangerous diseases such as Lyme Disease and other tick-carried conditions. Pennsylvania has led the nation in the number of Lyme Disease cases diagnosed over the past decade. As more people head outdoors, that means an increased likelihood of encounters with ticks, as well as other insects. Taking the proper precautions can keep you safe from bites and illnesses.
- Mosquito-bourne Diseases — PA Department of Health
- Mosquitos — CDC
- Avoid Bug Bites — CDC
- Reduce the Threat of Zika Virus and Other Mosquito-borne Illnesses — NSC
- Find the Repellent that’s Right for You — Environment Protection Agency (EPA)
5. Catch Up on Immunizations
Watch a video from Sesame Street featuring Elmo and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy as they explain how vaccines work, and why they’re so important for children’s health.
Routine childhood vaccinations are safe and keep your children healthy and strong — like eating vegetables and brushing their teeth. Whether your child is behind on a vaccine, missing a dose or completely unvaccinated, now is the time get your child caught up on childhood vaccinations! It’s easy to get back on track. Simply call your child’s healthcare provider to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
- Now is the Time to Catch-Up On Routine Vaccines! — PA Promise for Children
- 2022 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old — CDC
- Catch-up Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents Who Start Late or Who Are More than 1 Month Behind — CDC
6. Lock up Your Firearms
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that the safest home for a child is one without guns. The most effective way to prevent unintentional gun injuries, suicide and homicide to children and adolescents, research shows, is the absence of guns from homes and communities. But statistics show that roughly a third of U.S. homes with children have guns. If you decide to keep guns in the home, be aware that many studies show that teaching kids about gun safety, or to not touch a firearm if they find one, is not enough. You can reduce the chances of children being injured, however, by following important safety rules like those in the video below:
Watch a video from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) about firearms safety and how to properly store and secure your firearms.