Child Health, Family Health Seth Stratton | one year ago

Keeping Your Family Safe All Summer Long

Summer is a time for vacations, cookouts and outdoor activities, but it also brings weather-related dangers and injuries. Protect your family and enjoy the season with these summer safety tips.

Children and Cars – Heatstroke

One of the biggest summer dangers for children is heatstroke. On average, every eight days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. “Most times, these are tragic accidents that occur when there is a variation in the normal routine: an extra stop on the way to daycare or a different person taking a child to school,” says James Young, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Levine Children’s Hospital, part of Carolinas HealthCare System. Children become overheated three to five times faster than adults. In the summer, parents should stay vigilant to avoid tragedy and follow these heatstroke safety rules:
  • Never leave a child alone in a car – not even for something like a quick stop inside a convenience store. “Car temperatures can quickly increase by 20 to 30 degrees within 15 minutes,” says Dr. Young.
  • Always lock your car, especially at home. “Nearly a third of the heatstroke-related car deaths are due to children getting into unlocked cars without the parent’s knowledge,” says Simone Lawson, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Levine Children’s Hospital. “Children get into an unlocked car and cannot get out.”
  • Remember, it doesn’t have to be hot for a child to become overheated in car. A child in Georgia died in a vehicle earlier this year in a recorded temperature of only 58 degrees.
  • Make sure your daycare or school knows that you will call if your child is not coming in that day and in return, that they should call you if your child is not present.
  • If you see a child left in a car, call 911 immediately.
Vehicle deaths by heatstroke often get the headlines, but they are only one of the summertime safety hazards. Here are more ways to steer clear of common summer dangers:

Water Safety

“Nearly half of all water deaths in North Carolina occur from June through August,” says Dr. Lawson. For safe swimming this summer, remember:
  • Know where all the water is in your community – pools, lakes or rivers – and teach children basic water safety.
  • Always supervise children in or around any water. “Use touch supervision, not just sight, to keep kids safe,” says Dr. Lawson.
  • Children over 3 years old should take swimming lessons and parents should know CPR and know how to swim.
  • Install a four-sided fence with a locking gate around all pools.

Biking & Walking Safety

“Warmer weather brings out more walkers and bikers, many of them children,” says Dr. Young. “Adults should be mindful of this and slow down while driving, especially in areas with increased foot and bike traffic.” Other tips to remember:
  • Wear a properly fitted bike helmet.
  • Make sure kids know the rules of the road, like looking before crossing the street and biking in the direction of traffic.
  • Never cross a street or ride a bike while wearing headphones or using the phone.

Vehicle Safety

“Car crashes occur more often in the summer among younger drivers because they’re out having fun without a defined destination,” says Dr. Lawson. Parents and teens should sign a vehicle safety contract that covers the following:
  • Always wear a seatbelt.
  • No phones in the car while driving.
  • No speeding or taking any risks as a driver.
  • Be a good passenger and don’t encourage drivers to take part in risky behaviors.
  • Have a “way out” if a teen finds him or herself in a situation where a driver may have been drinking, such as at prom or a graduation party. Make sure they know they can text you for a pick-up. “If they do call, don’t judge or ask too many questions, but do have a talk the next day about potential risks,” says Dr. Lawson.