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 6 months, avoid sunscreen and dress them in long-sleeved, light clothes and hats. Everyone else should wear sun hats, sunglasses and SPF 15 or higher sunscreen. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply it 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 grownup. 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-closing 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.
Lawnmowers: About 10,000 children and teens are injured by lawnmowers each year, and 75 people are killed annually as a result of lawnmower 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 lawnmower 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 it 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. Products containing DEET shouldn't be used on babies younger than 2 months. Avoid sunscreen-repellent combination creams, because you should reapply sunscreen every two hours, but apply repellent only once.
Poisonous plants: Teach your kids how 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.