12 Safety Commandments to Live by This Summer


It’s finally summer! And that means spending time outdoors with your family and friends, grilling, swimming, sports, and just playing in the yard. But, before you head off on that weekend family trip, it’s important to know the facts about keeping your family safe this summer. Did you know that every 25 seconds a young athlete is sent to the emergency room, or every year around 65,000 kids are treated for injuries due to trampolines? Find out how to keep your kids safe with these summer safety tips and still have fun!

Summer Safety Tips for Kids

1. Be The Master of Water Safety

Every day, around two to three children die as a result of drowning. It’s important to be safe whether you’re swimming or boating on the water.

Swimming Safety

  • Children should be constantly supervised when they are around water.

  • Teach your kids to swim, or enroll them in swimming lessons.

  • Learn how to perform CPR.

  • Fence in your pool on all sides to prevent accidental drowning.

  • Learn how to prevent and identify recreational water illness.

There has been an uptick in the cases of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) the past few years. RWIs are caused by germs in the water of pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, fountains, lakes, rivers, and oceans. These germs are not easily killed by chlorine. The most common RWI is diarrhea, and it is spread when someone who has diarrhea enters a pool and their feces wash into the water. To keep everyone safe this summer, stay out of the water if you have diarrhea. You should also shower before entering the water, avoid peeing or pooping in the water, and make sure you don’t swallow the water. For small children, take them to the bathroom once every hour and avoid changing diapers next to the pool.

Boating Safety

  • Everyone should wear a properly fitted life jacket when they are on a boat, even if they are a great swimmer.

  • Never drink alcohol while operating a boat.

  • Learn how to operate a boat through education classes before taking anyone out on the water.

  • Check your boat for safety measures by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

2. Prevent Heat-Related Illness

The summer sun can get hot very quickly, and for a specific group of people, it can become dangerous. Heat-related illness more quickly affects infants, young children, people over the age of 65, people with mental illness, people who participate in strenuous physical activity in the heat, and people who suffer from heart disease and high blood pressure. While anyone can develop heat exhaustion, these groups should be watched more intently for the signs. 

How To Prevent Heat-Related Illness

  • Drink water, not alcohol or drinks containing lots of sugar.

  • Stay indoors if possible and try to find locations with air conditioning.

  • Take a cool shower or bath.

  • Stay cool by wearing light-colored, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.

  • If you must be outside, aim for the morning and evening hours.

  • Lower the amount that you exercise.

  • Rest often in shady areas.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

  • Heavy sweating

  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin

  • Weakness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fast, weak pulse

  • Fainting

If you or a family member has signs of heat-related illness, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

3. Superhero Sunscreen

It only takes a few bad sunburns to increase the chances of developing skin cancer later in life. The UV rays (both UVA and UVB) that come from the sun are actually a type of invisible radiation. They penetrate the skin and can cause damage to the cells. It only takes 15 minutes for your skin to become damaged if you are unprotected in the sun, but the results of that damage won’t appear for up to 12 hours. Even people who tan instead of burn are damaging their skin with each tan.

Sunscreen should be worn whenever you go outdoors, no matter why you are out there. 

How to Prevent Sunburns

  • Stay in the shade or indoors when the sun is highest in the sky (midday).

  • Wear tightly-knit clothing that covers your arms and legs.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that can protect your face, ears, neck, and nose simultaneously.

  • Wear sunglasses to prevent UV rays from causing eye damage.

  • Wear sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 with UVA and UVB protection, and apply it 30 minutes before going outside.

  • Reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially during swimming and sweating (even waterproof and water-resistant sunscreen).

4. Repel the Insects

The great outdoors also comes with a few downsides, like mosquitoes and ticks. These little bugs can carry diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. Protect yourself when you go outdoors by using insect repellant. CDC-approved insect repellents contain:

  • DEET

  • Picaridin

  • IR 3535

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus

It’s safe to use products that contain 30% or less of these repellents on kids.

Ways to Keep Yourself Safe from Ticks

  • Use a tick control chemical in your backyard.

  • Keep play areas, patios, and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and vegetation to reduce the likelihood of ticks.

  • Check everyone, including your pets, and everything you are bringing into the house for ticks after being outside.

  • Look for ticks in your hair, around your waist, between your legs, behind your knees, in your bellybutton, in and around your ears, and under your arms.

  • Take a shower or bath after coming in from outside to make it easier to find ticks.

  • Tumble your clothes in the dryer on high heat for an hour to kill ticks.

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove a tick.

5. Prevent Falls

Almost 2.8 million children go to the ER each year with injuries related to falls. Keep kids protected from falls by only taking them to parks where the playground equipment is safe, soft, and well-maintained. Use window guards, stair gates, and guardrails in your home to avoid falls down stairs and out of windows. Children should also wear all necessary protective gear when participating in sports or other activities. Supervise your kids when they are playing on playground equipment or other places where they could potentially fall.

6. It’s Time to Start Drinking

And by that, we mean water. Staying hydrated is especially important during the summer. Don’t wait until you or your child feels thirsty to drink water. That could be a sign that you are already dehydrated. Teach your kids how important it is to drink water before, during, and after an activity. 

Signs of Dehydration in Children

  • Dry or sticky mouth

  • Lethargy or irritability

  • Few or no tears when crying

  • Dry, cool skin

  • Eyes that look sunken into their head

  • A lack of urine for 12 hours, or a small amount of dark urine

  • Fatigue or dizziness in older children

A child who is mildly dehydrated should drink as much water as they want in a cool environment. If your child shows signs of severe dehydration, call your pediatrician for recommendations on oral rehydration solutions available at your local pharmacy.

7. Never Leave Kids or Pets in a Car

We’ve all heard the horror stories of parents forgetting their kids in a hot car. A child’s body temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s, which is why hot cars are so dangerous. Never leave a child or pet in a car unattended, even if the car is running or the windows are down.

8. Practice Driving Safety

Car accidents are the number one cause of death for people between the ages of one and 34. They kill more than 40,000 people each year, and the most dangerous time to drive is in the month of August, right during the heat of summer. There are several precautions you can take this summer as you hit the open road:

  • Kids under the age of 13 should ride in the backseat of the car.

  • Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly secured.

  • Everyone should be wearing a seatbelt!

  • Keep your keys somewhere safe and out of reach of children.

  • Do not text and drive or partake in any other forms of distracted driving.

  • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

9. Watch for Fire

In 2010 alone, fireworks caused over 15 thousand fires. Fire pits, bonfires, and commercial fireworks are dangerous to children who don’t know how to be safe. Teach your children that there is a limit to how close they can get to a contained fire, and keep them from running too close to the flames. It’s also good practices to assume that every fire pit area contains hot objects, just in case a fire was recently extinguished. As for fireworks, the safest way to view them is at a professional show.

10. Wear Helmets, Elbow and Knee Pads

There were over 515,000 ER visits due to bicycle-related injuries in 2010. Children and adults should be outfitted with properly fitted helmets, and elbow and knee pads. Bright fluorescent clothing can also make bicyclists more visible. If you are riding your bikes at night, use reflectors and bicycle lights to draw attention to your family.

11. Become a Proper Pedestrian

It’s not just a car’s responsibility to see you as you cross the street, pedestrians also need to be cautious! Teach your kids to walk, not run, across the street, and to only do so with an adult. Explain how making eye contact with nearby drivers will let them know that the car can see them. Children should also never run out from between parked cars on the street or in the parking lot.

12. Guard the Grill

Summer is a great time for grilling out, but it can be too easy for kids to get too close to a hot grill. It’s important to keep your kids away from the grill and teach them not to touch it. Grills can stay hot for long periods of time, even if they are off. Know the different types of burns and what you should do to treat each one.

Types of Burns

First Degree Burns

  • Redness, pain, a little swelling, no blisters

Second Degree Burns

  • Blisters that sometimes break open, severe pain, wet-looking, bright pink to cherry red color

Third Degree Burns

  • Dry, waxy or leathery, white, brown, or charred, little to no pain

What To Do With Burns

First Degree Burns

  • Remove clothing from the burned area.

  • Run cool water over the area, or hold a clean, cold compress over the area, for three to five minutes.

  • Do not use ice!

  • Apply aloe gel or cream to the area a few times a day.

  • If the area is small, keep it clean and protect it with a sterile gauze pad or bandage (only on older kids).

Second and Third Degree Burns

  • Call 911.

  • Keep your child lying down with the burn elevated.

  • Attempt to remove clothing and jewelry from the affected area, in case of swelling.

  • Run cool water over the area, or hold a clean, cold compress over the area, for three to five minutes.

  • Do not use ice!

  • Do not break the blisters.

  • Cover the area with a clean, dry cloth until help arrives.

Summertime is often considered “trauma season” by medical workers. Keep your kids safe and healthy this season with these handy tips. If an accident does occur, trust the doctors at UnityPoint Clinic Express Care to get your family back on their feet!

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