Whether you're packing a picnic basket or beach bag this summer, keep your family safe by following these tips.
At the Beach
Cover up: For babies under six months, avoid sunscreen and dress them in long-sleeved, light clothes and hats. For everyone else, wear sun hats, sunglasses and SPF 15 sunscreen or higher. Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours or after a dip. Use sunscreen even if it's cloudy.
Stay above water: Avoid water wings and similar flotation devices because they give kids a false sense of security. Infants and toddlers should always be within arms' reach of a grown-up. Never leave kids unattended in the water.
In the Backyard
Summer spells BBQ: The grill is not a play area, so no running nearby. Check the tubes and hoses on a gas grill for obstructions or damage. Keep the flame away from grease and flammable materials. Never smoke near a gas grill. Never use a gas or charcoal grill indoors.
Pool safety: As we've told you before, pools can be deadly. At least 300 kids under 5 drown each year in swimming pools. If you have a pool, install a fence at least four feet high on all sides with a self-close latch that's out of reach of small children. Keep a portable phone, shepherd's hook (a long pole with a hook on the end) and life preserver handy.
Good eats: Food spoils fast in hot weather. Keep meat refrigerated until it hits the grill, and keep grandma's potato salad in the fridge until it's time to eat.
Fireworks: Fireworks are dangerous and illegal for personal use in many states. About 8,000 people are injured annually by fireworks. So don't use them at home. Instead, plan a family outing for July 4th, and arrive early so you can get a great spot to see your town's display.
Lawn mowers: About 10,000 children and teens are injured by lawn mowers per year, and 75 people are killed annually as a result of lawn mower accidents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 16 should not operate riding mowers, and children younger than 12 should not operate walk-behind mowers. Children should never ride as a passenger on riding mowers, and adults using a lawn mower should make sure children are kept out of the yard.
At the Park
Play it safe: For kids who play sports, shorten the intensity and duration of practice on hot or humid days. Bring lots of water and drink before exercise. Clothes should be light colored and lightweight. Change out of sweaty clothes.
Bugs! Bugs can be more than a nuisance. Ticks spread Lyme disease and mosquitos carry West Nile Virus. Wear long trousers in areas with high brush and check for ticks at the end of the day. Avoid perfumed soaps and creams and don't dress in bright, floral patterns. Use bug repellent. The American Society of Pediatrics recommends repellent with DEET. Babies younger than two months should not use DEET. Avoid sunscreen-bug repellent combination creams because you should reapply sunscreen every two hours, but apply bug repellent only once.
Poisonous plants: Teach your kids to identify poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac. Stay clear of high brush and wear long pants on hikes. If you think you might have brushed against the itchy shrub, shower when you get home. Do not take a bath.