What can we do to ensure a fun and safe summer?
Summer fun and safety for you and those around you
Here in the northern hemisphere, we’re heading into summer, which means kids are getting out of school and warmer weather is coming. I thought it would be a good time to talk about how to make the most of the summer and stay safe whether you’re going away on vacation or just staying home.
Activities to enjoy when the weather is warm and kids are home
- Leave some downtime
When I was a kid, summers were generally unplanned time. I would spend maybe a week at camp, another week going to a nearby church’s Vacation Bible School, but summertime was mostly free time. We would take off after morning chores with the other neighbor kids to explore, ride our bikes, play games, and make up elaborate scenarios.
This seems unthinkable to me now. Is the world really more dangerous now than it was back then, or are we just more aware of it now? Share your thoughts on this with me in the comments below, on the TPW facebook group, or email me. In any case, I’d encourage you to leave some free time for yourself and your family. Do what works for you and your family.
- Find alternatives to extensive screen time
Public libraries often have summer programs for kids. Check out your local library to see what they offer. (And check out their offerings for adults while you’re there!)
- Switch things up!
Have meals outside if the weather permits. Take it to a park or just your back yard. At work, take your lunch outside instead of eating it at your desk.
- Get outside
Backyard camping can be fun for the kids. Let them ride their bikes, and set up water play in the yard even if you don’t have a pool. Get a cheap play pool from the store, or just let them run through the sprinkler.
- Explore local attractions. What do people from other places come to your town to do?
I’ve lived in the Dallas area for a couple of decades and haven’t visited the 6th Floor Museum or the Dallas Aquarium. Even our small community here in Greenville, Texas, has some potentially interesting places to explore. We have the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum, a winery barrel room tour, Splash Kingdom, a seasonal farmer’s market. A nearby community also has a children’s museum that I’ll be taking my grandkids to.
If you don’t want to spend the time or money on a big vacation this summer, take a staycation and explore what’s close to home. Google “tourism in [your town]” and see what comes up.
- Find ideas for fun things to do
Google “Fun things to do in the summer” and you’ll find all kinds of articles filled with suggestions. Look for links to some of those articles below. Below are some suggestions I found:
- Volunteer at a nature center
- Have a luau in the back yard
- Have a picnic at a nearby state park
- Have a water balloon toss (or a water gun fight)
- Visit a museum you’ve never been to.
- Visit a county fair
- Go to a free music festival
- Play mini golf
- Make sure everybody knows how to swim. Swim lessons are a great activity for kids and adults. They can have fun in the water while learning a skill that could save a life!
- Learn CPR and basic first aid, and teach it to your kids where appropriate. (This could be an interesting summer activity: take a first aid/CPR course – yourself or as a family)
- Whether at the beach or at a pool, keep personal flotation devices handy – Kids’ inflatable pool toys or pool noodles are not an adequate substitute.
- Kids should ALWAYS be supervised around water
“Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 1 to 14, and children account for 1 in 4 drowning deaths in the U.S.”
- Other sobering statistics:
- Most drownings involving children ages 1 to 4 occur in home swimming pools.
- The majority of young children who drown were last seen in the care of one or both parents in the home and had been out of sight for less than five minutes.
- Young children can drown in less than two inches of water.
- Establish some basic rules of behavior around water
- Don’t go into the water alone; always have a buddy
- No roughhousing (to avoid falls, injuries)
- Never dive into shallow or unfamiliar water – if you can’t see the bottom through the water, go in first to get familiar with the depth
- If you have a pool, put a fence or screen around it. Experts recommend it be at least 4 feet tall and have self-closing/self-latching gates
- Establish some basic rules of behavior around water
- Sunscreen – Use the recommended SPF of 30 or more and reapply every 2 hours. Don’t assume it’s not necessary if it’s cloudy or you’re under a porch
- Don’t forget your scalp – wear a hat (with at least a 3″ brim all around) to avoid scalp burn and help avoid sunstroke (“8 Tips to Avoid Summer Bummers” ).
- Be aware the sun’s rays are strongest mid-day (between 10 a.m. & 4 p.m.), so limit exposure and strenuous exercise during those hours
- Drink plenty of water – Red Cross recommends avoiding drinks with caffeine or alcohol when you’re out in the sun because both are dehydrating (see “Red Cross Shares 15 Safety Tips to Keep Your Summer Fun and Stress-Free”)
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. (see “Let the Summer Fun Begin”)
It feels like this is common sense and shouldn’t have to be said, but every year children die in cars where they’re left by people who didn’t mean to harm them.
Picnics and grilling outdoors are a fun part of summer. Be safe. Experts recommend:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Clean your grill and utensils regularly
- Refrigerate food that needs it (e.g., eggs, dairy, meats)
- Take two coolers – one for beverages and one for food, and keep ice or ice packs on top of the food as well as on the bottom
- Keep the grill or campfire away from foot traffic and play areas, as well as away from your house siding and overhanging branches.
- Be aware when driving – more people on the roads, including tourists unfamiliar with the area, and more bikers
- Keep your car well maintained – Have AC, tires, coolant, checked before hitting the road. (For more ideas check out TPW Episode 204 – Preparing for the Next Season)
- Be smart when you’re out and about.
“Exploring festivals, new towns, hiking paths, and even other countries are very popular summer activities. They should also involve proper planning. Make sure everyone has an exploring buddy and a way to keep in contact. Have everyone’s phone number for contact, and arrange for specific times and places to meet up once exploring is finished.”
- If you’re out in nature, be familiar with plants like poison ivy and poison oak, and what sort of venomous snakes or insects are common to the area, what they look like, and where they’re prone to hang out. If you’re hiking in areas where these might be present, wear long pants and good boots. Remember insect spray too. Also, avoid scented lotions, soaps, etc., which attract bugs.
- Taking the kids to the park? Check out the equipment to make sure it’s in a safe condition. Make sure there are no rusty or sharp edges. Touch the slides to make sure they won’t burn little legs.
- If you go out for a bike ride or hike, make sure somebody knows where you’re headed and take a first aid kit
What should be in a first aid kit? Dr. Carolyn Dean recommends:
- Antibiotic ointment
- Adhesive bandages
- Anti-itch gels
- An Ace bandage
- Emergency hydration and electrolyte replacement drinks or packs
- Using bikes, skateboards, rollerblades? Dr. LaTonya Russell recommends:
- Stay off busy streets
- Wear helmets/elbow & knee pads
- Make sure you go over safety rules with kids
- Children shouldn’t ride or skate alone – if under 10, need an adult monitoring them.
Be safe, and have fun!
This isn’t intended a comprehensive safety treatise, but rather just a few ideas to keep in mind this summer. Find more suggestions and resources linked in the Resources section below.
Like anything else, summer safety is a matter of awareness and intentionality, thinking ahead, and using common sense. Take a few smart steps, and then have fun!
What do you think?
Do you plan any special summertime activities for yourself or your kids? What steps do you take to make sure summer is fun and safe? Please share them in the comments section below this post or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
Resources and Links
- “Summer Fun . . . Summer Safety”
- “Important Safety Tips to Make the Most of Summer Fun”
- “8 Tips to Avoid Summer Bummers”
- “Red Cross Shares 15 Safety Tips to Keep Your Summer Fun and Stress-Free”
- “Let the Summer Fun Begin”
- “10 Summer Safety Tips”
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