Summer is all about family fun with vacations, barbecues, and time spent at the pool. All that fun, though, also means taking stock of safety needs around the house to make sure fun zones are safe zones, too.
While it may be easier to herd goats than children, and the word “No!” makes the object you’re trying to keep your kids away from turn into a magnet, it’s possible to keep safety in check.
Here are 10 practical tips to keep your kids focused on having a fun-filled—and safe—summer vacation:
1. Lather up on the sunscreen
Life jacket. Check. Goggles. Check. Pool toys. Check.
All children are accounted for, and it’s going to be a great day at the pool. Wait!
Don’t forget the sunscreen. The lowest SPF factor is 15. Sunscreen products come conveniently in a lotion and spray form, and it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Keep to this rule, especially in areas where the reflective rays of the sun are harsher, such as at the pool, on the sand, and in the car.
2. Stay safe at the pool.
There’s more to watch out for than sunburn when by the pool. Children love horseplay, but it’s important to make sure the older ones take it easy and watch out for the little kids. The pool may have a lifeguard but you should always keep your eyes open. It also goes without saying to not leave your kids unattended.
If on vacation or at a new pool facility, inspect the area before your family dives in. Drains should be covered, particularly in the deep end. Check the inspection reports, too, because up to 80% of public pools have had a violation recently.
3. Enroll your family in a CPR class.
CPR is a vital skill for all family members to learn. It can save a life when you least expect. Choking is the number one cause of unintentional death in infants, for instance, so it’s best to be prepared.
CPR may be learned anytime and the core skills can be learned by anyone within twenty minutes. Use CPR for family bonding and to be prepared in the case of an emergency. CPR certification classes will also be helpful to older teenagers seeking summer jobs as lifeguards.
4. Hydration is key.
The summer is a great time to help kids develop healthy hydration habits. During the summer, your kids’ hydration needs are even more vital to meet. Their developing bodies cool less efficiently than adults’. When water is leaving the body as sweat, faster than it’s being replaced, there is a higher risk for dehydration.
Kids should have healthy fruit juice and water breaks every 20 minutes outdoors. Start the day with a glass of water, and try to find a shady spot for breaks. A cooler filled with water and juice is also helpful to cultivate good hydration practices in children.
5. Vigilantly check for ticks.
In a house filled with pets and playful children, ticks are a major concern during the spring, summer, and fall, especially with the risk of Lyme and other diseases.
If you find a tick on you, a family member, or a pet, remove it with a pair of pointy tweezers by grabbing the tick by the head or mouth. Use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean the area. If a tick has broken the skin, save it – it can be helpful for the doctor during diagnosis.
Preventive measures include wearing breathable long sleeves and pants and sticking to trails when in wooded areas. After a day of being outside in nature, check your clothes and body from head-to-toe.
6. Keep the bug spray handy.
Pack extra bug spray so the kids are able to have more fun instead of constantly swatting away annoying bugs. Mosquitoes are, of course, very common. In addition to their itchy welts they leave behind, they also could carry malaria and the West Nile Virus. One prominent infectious disease expert recently warned that we might even see Zika in the U.S. this summer.
Many bug sprays contain DEET, which works, but it’s considered to be a toxic ingredient. If you’re concerned about the potentially harmful effects of DEET, there are many natural bug spray options you can purchase—or you can even try making your own.
RELATED STORY: The Best Ways to Repel Mosquitoes in the Age of Zika
7. Check to make sure the car seat fits.
Heading out for a road trip this summer? When’s the last time you checked the car seat? Kids grow like crazy and your child’s car seat should be age appropriate. Review the setup of the car seat to ensure it conforms to recommended safety standards. You might also want to use a car safety checklist to avoid dangerous hazards.
Some state laws require children be in a car seat until age 12, but did you know that 73% of car seats aren’t installed or used correctly?
8. Beware of cross-contamination while handling raw meat.
With the warmer temperatures, comes those highly-anticipated outdoor BBQs. However, you’ll want to keep your family safe from cross-contamination. Before cooking any raw meat, it should be brought to room temperature. Place the item on the cutting board, or keep it covered in a bowl until ready—and always wash your hands after handling meat.
Do not use the same plates or tools to transfer cooked meat as you used for when it was raw. Be sure to prepare vegetables separately and with different utensils as well.
9. Build a first aid kit.
Many businesses that cater to young children have basic first aid kits, but these aren’t always nearby when you need them the most. So, why not build your own first aid kit?
Include any backup prescription medications. You’ll also want to add such items as adhesive bandages, gauze, ointments, creams, and aspirin. A flashlight, scissors, and thermal blanket are practical items that are also needed.
Place first aid kits in quickly and easily accessible areas at home and in your car. Show older children the locations and how to use the items within the kit.
10. Create safety plans and practice them.
Summer is a perfect time to develop and practice emergency plans with your children, whether it’s a plan for if they get lost in public or for staying safe in a fire or tornado. Point out the best exits, where to meet the family, and how to safely ask for help.
Even the most practical items for safety may be overlooked, especially when busy keeping an eye on your kids—how do they have so much energy anyway? But don’t worry. Summer vacation is a great time to let it all out and have fun while also learning how to stay safe.