Can you believe it’s summer already? It seems like only yesterday we were trudging around in heavy coats and winter boots. But as much as we all love warm weather, there are some things we need to be cautious about when we spend more time outside and expose ourselves to the elements while we play.
What’s lurking in the grass?
Kicking off your shoes and feeling the cool blades of green between your toes says summer like nothing else. But before you run wild, beware – there can be more than just ladybugs hiding in the tall grass.
Dangerous objects like broken glass, sharp rocks, nails or screws and thorny branches can lie in wait and puncture or get stuck in the bottom of a bare foot. Make sure your family’s tetanus shots are up to date (one vaccination is only good for 10 years) to avoid succumbing to the bacteria’s harsh side effects.
A lot of people think that they can only get tetanus by stepping on a rusty nail, but it’s much more widespread that. Tetanus is mostly found in soil, dust, and on animal feces. A small scrape or cut on an arm or leg can act as an entry point, and once the spores of the tetanus bacteria get in, they produce a toxin that causes symptoms like painful jaw and neck muscle contractions which can interfere with breathing.
Another potential danger that many people don’t think about are stinging insects that can hide in long or even short grass. Bees and wasps are attracted to flowers and the sweet, sticky remains from soda cans left lying around. Some varieties of wasps even build their nests on the ground, so be on the lookout.
Watch your kids near water
Almost every house with small children has some sort of swimming pool in the backyard to cool off in when temperatures soar. According to the Canadian Red Cross, kids ages 1 to 4 drown at twice the rate as kids ages 10 to 14, and they drown in private pools 5 times more often than public ones. The depth of the water makes no difference in how likely a child is to drown. Even a bucket with a few centimetres of water in it can be deadly. Older kids should also be monitored at all times around water of any depth – 76% of kids who drowned under the age of 10 were not under adult supervision.
Always insist that your children wear a lifejacket or floatation device, even if they’re just playing at the edge of a lake. Small kids are top heavy – they lean too far over and they’re down. Remember, drowning is a silent killer. Parents often don’t realize what’s happened until it’s too late.
Take breaks from the heat
Babies and kids up to the age of 4 are most at risk for heat-related illnesses. An innocent day at the park can sometimes be overwhelming for kids when they’re exposed to extreme heat and aren’t drinking enough water. Heat exhaustion can warrant a trip to the emergency room if symptoms get out of hand. Increased thirst, weakness, fainting, headache, irritability, nausea and vomiting are some signs to look out for.
If your child is showing symptoms of heat exhaustion, bring him to a cool, shady place (preferably indoors with air conditioning), give him a chilled sports drink that contains salt and sugar and put a cool cloth on his head. If he continues to be lethargic, he may need IV fluids. Call your doctor for advice.
Heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke, which can be fatal. In this case, a child is unable to regulate his body temperature which can soar to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41.4 degrees Celsius) or higher, and result in brain damage or death if not treated quickly.
The number one cause of heat stroke? Leaving a child in a hot car. How many times have we heard sad stories about mothers who think they will only be a few minutes in a store and come back to their cars and find their children in serious distress, or even worse? An outside temperature of 34 degrees Celsius can hit almost 52 degrees Celsius inside a car in only 20 minutes.
It goes without saying that kids should be slathered in sunscreen anytime they’re playing outside. Apply 30 minutes before going outside and every two hours if they’re in and out of the water. UV protective clothing is also a good idea. If a burn does occur, Orange Naturals offers a clean and sensitive, fragrance-free Burn Relief cream that can be safe to use even on babies. Always seek medical advice for burns in young children.
Maybe this summer your kids will convince you that they’re old enough to ride their bikes around the neighbourhood either alone or with friends. It’s a scary milestone, but at the same time you want them to develop a sense of independence. The first time my girls rode alone, I was a basket of nerves until they came back. Teaching your kids good safety habits might help to put your mind at ease.
First, insist they always wear a helmet, and this goes for any type of wheeled method of transportation, whether it’s a bike, scooter, or skateboard. Also ensure that the helmet fits properly and is the right type for the activity they’re doing.
Second, make sure they know the rules of the road. Just because they’ve been riding in the car with you their whole lives it doesn’t mean they’ve been paying attention. Remind them not to dart out behind parked cars. They should also know to use marked crosswalks and get off their bicycles and walk them across the road when there’s no traffic. Also teach them that just because a car stops for them to cross, it doesn’t mean other cars can see them. A car stopped at a crosswalk for a pedestrian, for example, might also be signalling to turn left, causing the car behind it to go around and pass and strike a pedestrian or cyclist as they are crossing the road. I’ve seen these types of potential accidents too many times.
Kids look forward to summer all year long but often don’t realize the dangers that come with fun in the sun. Keep your holidays worry free by being aware of your surroundings and always put safety first.