5 Summer Safety Tips for Keeping Your Family Healthy and Safe

July 07, 2022
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In emergency rooms, summertime is known as trauma season.

“Because people are outdoors more in the warmer months of summer, we tend to see more outdoor injury-related visits from adults and children to our emergency department than at any other time of the year,” said Dr. Gerald Beltran of Baystate Medical Center's department of emergency medicine.

Dr. Beltran offers the following expert tips to keep you safe and healthy this summer.

1. Drowning Prevention: Practice Water Safety

Swimming and boating are some of the most popular summer activities.

“To prevent drowning, children need to be supervised at all times around bodies of water and home pools need to be secured with barriers high enough so that a child can’t climb over them,” said Dr. Beltran, noting drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4.

“We also see cases of people fracturing their necks from diving into shallow water, whether in the backyard pool or at the local pond. What can happen is that when a person breaks their neck, they lose control of their arms and drown,” he added.

He also noted that if they survive their initial neck injury, these patients may have permanent neurological damage and can lose the use of their arms or legs.

Make water safety your priority by enrolling in American Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to prevent and respond to injuries.

Children can get into trouble in seconds when around water. Parents need to actively supervise – with their eyes on their kids at all times–when they are in or near the water.

Water Safety Tips

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Swim with a buddy.
  • Surround your pool or spa on all four sides by a fence at least 4-feet high with self-closing, self-latching gates.

2. Never Leave Children and Babies in Cars

It’s never okay to leave a child alone in a car for any reason. As temperatures begin to heat up, they’re at serious risk for heat stroke when left alone for only a few minutes in a closed vehicle.

Hot Car Safety Basics

  • Keep doors locked when parked to prevent curious children from entering when no one is around.
  • If possible, put your child’s car/booster seat in the middle of the back seat and visible in your rearview mirror.
  • Put your purse, phone or bag in the back seat so you will check the back seat when you arrive at your destination.

Dr. Beltran urges everyone “to never ever leave a child alone in a car whatever the temperature hot or cold.”

3. Protect Your Kids from Falls, a Leading Cause of Injury

Falls are the leading cause of injury to kids, and open windows, especially in summer, can lead to serious injuries.

A trauma-related injury from children falling out of open windows is another summer safety concern.

“Screens are not enough to keep children from falling out of windows. Parents need to install window guards or stops, which keep windows from opening more than four inches,” said Dr. Beltran.

Summer falls are another big risk for adults, especially for seniors who are susceptible year-round, and for children, too.

“Adults are at risk while outdoors climbing ladders to paint the house or trim a tree, while kids can fall at the playground around jungle gyms and slides,” said Dr. Beltran, who also cited slipping on wet surfaces around the pool as another hazard. 

Window Safety

The National Safety Council recommends the following:

  • When young children are around, keep windows closed and locked.
  • When opening a window for ventilation, use those located out of a child’s reach.
  • Supervise children to keep child’s play away from windows, balconies or patio doors.
  • Avoid placing furniture near windows to prevent young children from climbing and gaining access to an open window.
  • Don’t allow children to jump on beds or other furniture to help reduce potential falls.
  • Don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a window fall. Insect screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in the home.
  • Install ASTM F2090 compliant devices designed to limit how far a window will open or window guards (with quick-release mechanisms in case of fire or other emergency) to help prevent a fall.
  • Teach your child how to safely use a window to escape during an emergency, such as a fire.

4. Practice Hiking Safety

Even something otherwise healthy as hiking, a popular summer and fall activity, can turn tragic.

“Hikers can fall and break a leg or get lost in the woods and find themselves spending a cold night outdoors, where they can develop hypothermia. Additionally, an otherwise healthy appearing person might develop chest pains while hiking, not realizing they have an underlying heart condition. A person with asthma or COPD could have their illness triggered by pollen or the exertion during an outdoor activity, and if they have an episode while hiking and have forgotten their inhaler, it could lead to tragic circumstances,” said Dr. Beltran.

Also, with increased bear sightings, it’s a good idea to be “bear savvy.”

“It goes without saying that you never want to provoke or approach a bear, especially a mother and her cubs. Hike with others and make noise so a bear can hear you coming and hopefully scamper off. Also consider purchasing bear pepper spray and learning how to use it properly,” said Dr. Beltran.

“A little caution and taking the necessary precautions can go a long way in making your summer more injury free and enjoyable for both you and your children,” he added.

Hiking Safety Tips

  • Have a plan: prepare for weather, bring appropriate supplies, footwear, and clothing, and prepare for the return hike.
  • Bring a map and compass. Your phone may lose signal while you're on the trail, so be sure to look at your train ahead of time and come prepared.
  • Bring extra water and food.
  • Bring safety items like a light and a whistle. 
  • Bring a first-aid kit and a knife or multi-purpose tool. 
  • Wear (and bring) sunscreen and sun protection.

Learn more from the American Hiking Society.

5.Lawnmower Safety: Wear Ear and Eye Protection While Mowing

The Baystate emergency medicine physician also warned about lawnmower accidents, which are common in the summer for both adults and children, resulting in serious injuries to the fingers, hands and feet, including amputations. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year some 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors.

“Debris can be thrown by the mower, possibly leading to blunt trauma. Always wear hearing protection and eye protection when using mowers, they may assist in preserving sight and hearing,” said Dr. Beltran.

“And, keep your children indoors when you are mowing the lawn and be sure you don’t operate your mower barefoot,” he added.

Prevent Lawnmower Injuries

  • Read your lawnmower's instruction manual before you use it. 
  • Pick up stones and other debris before you start mowing. 
  • Wear goggles and ear plugs to protect your eyes and ears. 
  • Wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. 

More Summer Safety Tips for You and Your Family:

  • Keep children off the lawn while mowing, and never have a passenger on your riding mower.
  • Never leave a hot grill unattended and keep kids away when grilling.
  • Remind kids to ride their bicycles on the right-hand side of the street traveling in the same direction as cars. Teach them to obey traffic lights as cars do, and to always wear a helmet.
  • A heat index at or above 90°F can lead to heat-related illness. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated. Lemon and coconut water are especially good for hydration, or vegetable juice, which is better than fruit juice.
  • Apply sunscreen to cover all exposed areas 15 minutes before going outdoors. Opt for sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection. Always reapply when a child comes out of the water.
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