Friday, June 19, 2020

How to Keep Your Kids Safe While They Enjoy Summer Fun

The health of Americans has been a major cause of concern during the past few months, given the millions of confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the nation. And while many states are now reopening for business, the reality is that the threat of the coronavirus still remains. Although the U.S. spends almost three times more on healthcare than any other country in the world, you'll want to do everything possible to ensure your family doesn't need to rack up any out-of-pocket healthcare costs this summer. From pandemic preparation to run-of-the-mill summertime safety, here are a few steps parents can take to ensure kids stay healthy and happy all season long.

Keep Them Hydrated

As temperatures start to heat up, proper hydration becomes even more important. Whether your kids are playing in the backyard or are having a dance party in the house, they could probably benefit from upping their H2O intake. Heat-related illnesses can quickly turn life-threatening, so be sure to encourage your kids to drink plenty of water before, during, and after they partake in any kind of physical activity. Water-rich fruits can make for great snacks for this reason, so stock up on watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, citrus fruits, carrots, and bell peppers for some nutritious and delicious options. Whenever possible, try to limit their consumption of sugary and caffeinated drinks, as these can contribute to dehydration. Remind your kids that if they feel thirsty, they're already experiencing the first signs of dehydration.

Follow All COVID Guidelines

Although some states have relaxed certain mandates, the coronavirus continues to be a major threat to our health. Even if there are summer camps being offered in your area, it's best to forgo them altogether and to continue following all guidelines recommended by the CDC. These include social distancing (e.g., keeping at least six feet away from others in public), wearing face masks (recommended for all children over the age of two), frequent hand-washing, and avoiding large gatherings or high-risk scenarios. Even if other families in your circle aren't being as cautious, continue to follow these recommendations. We may be eager to get back to normal, but doing your part to keep flattening the curve is the best way to get there.

Always Supervise Backyard Play

If you have a backyard space, chances are that your children will be spending a lot of time there this summer. Investing in some play features like a swimming pool (even an inflatable model) can be a great way for kids to get some exercise and stay occupied for hours. After all, swimming is the fourth most popular sport or activity nationwide. However, you'll need to keep a close eye on your kids any time they're playing in or around the pool. Drownings are the top cause of injury death for children between the ages of one and four -- and it takes only a small amount of water and a short amount of time for such an incident to take place. Keep your kids within arm's length, make sure they wear proper floatation devices, and educate yourself on CPR. If you're able, sign your children up for swimming lessons; although lessons are harder to come by right now due to coronavirus concerns, swimming in pools is typically a safer activity in terms of the pandemic because the virus can't easily travel through water.

Even if you don't have a backyard pool, you'll still need to be present and alert when your kids are playing outside. Swingsets and trampolines are notorious for causing injury among children. Trampoline-related injuries led to more than 1 million emergency department visits between 2002 and 2011, with most of the children involved being younger than 17 years old. One-third of those injuries involved broken bones. And although minor ankle sprains can be treated at home and might take anywhere from a week to 10 days to fully heal, you won't want to take this risk. Swingsets and treehouses also pose injury risks, but covering the ground with a foot of mulch or other safe surface materials can help to reduce the shock of a fall. Ultimately, it's best to eliminate these kinds of hazards from backyard play, since you can't watch your kids every second. But no matter what, you'll need to stick close by to prevent injuries whenever possible.

Prevent Sunburn and Insect Bites

Spending time in nature can be fantastic for physical and mental health -- but you still need to protect your kids from the elements. Sun exposure is dangerous for both adults and kids, so you should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher to protect yourself from UV rays. Remember to reapply every few hours! Kids should also wear sunhats and sunglasses, as well as be encouraged to seek out shade or stay inside during the sunniest hours of the day.

Insects and other pests may also be a common concern. Mosquitoes and ticks can carry some scary diseases, so it's best to fend them off when possible and be diligent in checking for the signs of possible bites. Insect repellants should be applied and kids should wear lightweight long sleeves and long pants during outdoor excursions. Avoid walking through tall grass and unkempt brush -- and always do a physical tick check after returning from playing outdoors. Learn how to remove a tick safely with sterilized tweezers in case the need should ever arise.

As a parent, keeping your children safe is a never-ending task. But this summer, you'll be better prepared to prevent any incident. That way, everyone can stay happy and healthy -- even when things are still so uncertain.


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