Summer vacation can mean a time of fun outside and out of school, but it can also mean a few extra health precautions parents should be aware of this season. Biking is a great activity for kids that gets them outdoors and active, but it should be practiced safely, including:
- Wear a helmet – The best way to prevent injury is to make sure each child wears a properly fitted helmet any time they ride.
- Use signals – Bicyclists can use hand signals to communicate with others on the road as they ride. Learn the signals before you ride.
- Ride with an adult – young riders should ride with an adult.
- Be attentive – children that ride on the sidewalk should learn to watch for vehicles backing out of driveways and how to handle hazards that they encounter. Avoid listening to music while you ride since it can make it harder to hear traffic and detect dangerous situations before they happen.
- Don’t ride at night or in the rain – Children shouldn’t ride in conditions that make the road more dangerous or that make it harder to see, such as at night or in the rain. If you do ride in these conditions, always wear reflectors, bright colors or use lights to make you more noticeable.
A popular part of summer is swimming, whether it’s in a pool, lake, river or the ocean. Swimming in open water like that of a lake or the ocean can be more difficult for a number of reasons:
- There is limited visibility in open water compared to a pool, and hazards like rocks and logs can hide nearby. Low visibility can also make it difficult to see if a child falls in the water or is having trouble.
- Sudden drop offs are also common and it’s hard to know how deep an area of water is compared to another.
- Currents and tides can make swimming difficult for adults and can be an even greater hazard for children.
- Open water can be colder than that of a pool and can shock you if you aren’t prepared for it. If you’ll be swimming in cold water, dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
- Pay attention to the weather while you’re out and stay out of the water if you see lightning or hear thunder.
If you will be swimming in open water, look for designated swim areas that are supervised by a lifeguard. Even if your children are strong swimmers, it’s important to have a designated supervisor anytime kids are swimming.
Unfortunately, heat-related illness is also common in summertime. Hot cars can be especially dangerous for children and can lead to heatstroke and even death. On average, a child dies every ten days from heatstroke in a vehicle. Never leave a child alone in a car, even for a minute. Cars can heat up very quickly and leaving a window cracked isn’t enough to keep the interior cool. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
Leigha Jordan is the injury prevention coordinator for the trauma department at Cone Health. She also manages the activities of Safe Guilford, the injury prevention coalition for Guilford County, and provides outreach and education on child passenger, bike and pedestrian safety, and fall prevention for older adults. Leigha received a Master of Science in Health Promotion from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2001.