12 safety commandments to live by this summer

It’s summer. And that means spending time outdoors with your family and friends, grilling, swimming, sports and just playing in the yard. Find out how to keep your kids safe with these summer safety tips and still have fun.

1. Be the master of water safety.

Swimming safety

• Children should be constantly supervised when they are around water.

• Teach your kids to swim, or enroll them in swimming lessons.

• Learn how to perform CPR.

• Fence in your pool on all sides to prevent accidental drowning.

• Learn how to prevent and identify recreational water illness.

Boating safety

• Everyone should wear a properly fitted life jacket when they are on a boat, even if they are a great swimmer.

• Never drink alcohol while operating a boat.

• Learn how to operate a boat through education classes before taking anyone out on the water.

• Check your boat for safety measures by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

2. Prevent heat-related illness.

Heat-related illness more quickly affects infants, young children, people over the age of 65, people with mental illness, people who participate in strenuous physical activity in the heat and people who suffer from heart disease and high blood pressure.While anyone can develop heat exhaustion, these groups should be watched more intently for the signs.

Heat exhaustion symptoms:

• Heavy sweating,

• Cold, pale and clammy skin,

• Weakness,

• Nausea or vomiting,

• Fast, weak pulse and

• Fainting.

If you or a family member has signs of heat-related illness, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How to prevent heat-related illness:

• Drink water, not alcohol or drinks containing lots of sugar.

• Stay indoors if possible and try to find locations with air conditioning.

• Take a cool shower or bath

• Stay cool by wearing light-colored, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.

• If you must be outside, aim for the morning and evening hours.

• Lower the amount that you exercise.

• Rest often in shady areas.

• Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

3. Superhero sunscreen.

It only takes a few bad sunburns to increase the chances of developing skin cancer later in life. The UV rays (both UVA and UVB) that come from the sun are actually a type of invisible radiation. It only takes 15 minutes for your skin to become damaged if you are unprotected in the sun, but the results of that damage won’t appear for up to 12 hours. Even people who tan instead of burn are damaging their skin with each tan.

How to prevent sunburns:

• Stay in the shade or indoors when the sun is highest in the sky (midday).

• Wear tightly-knit clothing that covers your arms and legs.

• Wear a wide-brimmed hat that can protect your face, ears, neck, and nose simultaneously.

• Wear sunglasses to prevent UV rays from causing eye damage.

• Wear sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 with UVA and UVB protection, and apply it 30 minutes before going outside.

• Reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially during swimming and sweating.

4. Drink water.

• Staying hydrated before, during and after an activity is especially important during the summer.

• Don’t wait until you or your child feels thirsty to drink water.

• Signs of dehydration in children:

• Dry or sticky mouth,

• Lethargy or irritability,

• Few or no tears when crying,

• Dry, cool skin,

• Eyes that look sunken into their head,

• A lack of urine for 12 hours, or a small amount of dark urine and

• Fatigue or dizziness in older children.

A child who is mildly dehydrated should drink as much water as they want in a cool environment. If your child shows signs of severe dehydration, call your pediatrician.

5. Never leave kids or pets in a car

A child’s body temperature can increase three to five times faster than an adult’s, which is why hot cars are so dangerous. Never leave a child or pet in a car unattended, even if the car is running or the windows are down.

6. Repel the insects.

The great outdoors also comes with a few downsides, like mosquitoes and ticks. These little bugs can carry diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. Protect yourself when you go outdoors by using insect repellant.

CDC-approved insect repellents contain:


• Picaridin,

• IR 3535 or

• Oil of lemon eucalyptus.

It’s safe to use products that contain 30 percent or less of these repellents on kids.

7. Prevent falls.

Keep kids protected from falls by using window guards, stair gates and guardrails in your home. Supervise your children when they are playing on playground equipment or other places where they could potentially fall.

8. Practice driving safety

Car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for people between the ages of one and 34. The most dangerous time to drive is in the month of August. However, there are several precautions you can take:

• Do not text and drive or partake in any other forms of distracted driving.

• Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• Kids under the age of 13 should ride in the backseat of the car.

• Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly secured.

• Everyone should be wearing a seat belt.

• Keep your keys somewhere safe and out of reach of children.

9. Watch for fire.

Fire pits, bonfires and fireworks are dangerous to children who don’t know how to be safe. Teach your children that there is a limit to how close they can get to a contained fire, and keep them from running too close to the flames. It’s also good practices to assume that every fire pit area contains hot objects, just in case a fire was recently extinguished. As for fireworks, the safest way to view them is at a professional show.

10. Wear helmets, elbow and knee pads.

Children and adults should be outfitted with properly fitted helmets, and elbow and knee pads. Bright fluorescent clothing can also make bicyclists more visible. If you are riding your bikes at night, use reflectors and bicycle lights to draw attention to your family.

11. Become a proper pedestrian.

Teach your kids to walk, not run, across the street, and to only do so with an adult. Explain how making eye contact with nearby drivers will let them know that the car can see them.

12. Guard the grill.

Summer is a great time for grilling out, but it can be too easy for kids to get too close to a hot grill. It’s important to keep your kids away from the grill and teach them not to touch it. Grills can stay hot for long periods of time, even if they are off. Know the different types of burns and what you should do to treat each one.

Types of burns

First degree burns — Redness, pain, a little swelling, no blisters.

• Remove clothing from the burned area.

• Run cool water over the area, or hold a clean, cold compress over the area, for three to five minutes.

• Do not use ice.

• Apply aloe gel or cream to the area a few times a day.

• If the area is small, keep it clean and protect it with a sterile gauze pad or bandage (only on older kids).

Second degree burns — Blisters that sometimes break open, severe pain, wet-looking, bright pink to cherry red color.

Third Degree Burns — Dry, waxy or leathery, white, brown, or charred, little to no pain.

Second and third degree burns:

• Call 911.

• Keep your child lying down with the burn elevated.

• Attempt to remove clothing and jewelry from the affected area, in case of swelling.

• Run cool water over the area, or hold a clean, cold compress over the area, for three to five minutes.

• Do not use ice.

• Do not break the blisters.

• Cover the area with a clean, dry cloth until help arrives.

Keep your kids safe and healthy this season with these handy tips. If an accident does occur, trust the doctors at UnityPoint Clinic to get your family back on their feet.

Julie Bass is the clinic administrator at UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics.