Sunny’s Tips: Summer Safety for the Entire Family
With just weeks left before schools let out for the summer, it is important that we prepare ourselves and the kids in our lives. While planning vacations, camps and barbecues, we must remember one thing: SAFETY FIRST!
Please take the time to read some tips that will help make your family’s summer a SAFE one!
Year after year, we hear and read the same advice: Handle food carefully in the summer because foodborne illness — also known as “food poisoning” — is more prevalent in warmer weather. Do foodborne illnesses increase during the summer months? If so, why?
Yes, foodborne illnesses do increase during the summer, and the answer appears to be twofold. First, there are the natural causes. Bacteria are present throughout the environment in soil, air, water, and in the bodies of people and animals. Bacteria also need moisture to flourish, and Florida’s summer weather is both hot and humid.
Given the right circumstances, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply on food to large numbers. When this happens, someone eating the food can get sick.
Second, there are the “people” causes for the upswing in summertime foodborne illnesses. Outside activities increase. More people are cooking outside at picnics, barbecues, and on camping trips. The safety controls that a kitchen provides — thermostat-controlled cooking, refrigeration, and washing facilities — are usually not available.
Fortunately, people seldom get sick from contaminated food because most people have a healthy immune system that protects them not only from harmful bacteria on food, but from other harmful organisms in the environment. At the same time, FSIS, other government agencies, and food producers go to great lengths to keep food safe. And, of course, consumers can protect themselves at home with proper refrigeration and thorough cooking of perishable food.
We know foodborne illness increases in warm weather. We also know that consumers can Fight BAC!™ by following these four simple steps to safer food in the summertime.
Accidental falls are the number one cause of childhood injury, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Usually it’s just a scraped leg or arm, but when kids fall off bikes, they can hit their heads. You can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85% by equipping your child with a well-fitting helmet. Any time your child rides her bike, scooter, or roller blades, she should wear a helmet.
Take a close look at last year’s helmet to see if you should get a new one. Helmets break down with age and use.
SPORTS EQUIPMENT CHECK
Helmets aren’t the only thing. All sports equipment should be well maintained and the right size for your child. This may sound like a no-brainer but your child’s growth can be hard to keep up with. Run a size check on all of your child’s equipment. Does his bike still fit? Has he outgrown his athletic padding?
If your child is headed to summer camp, or attending day camp in town, check out the camp’s equipment as well. Sun Country Sports Center’s FUNfest Camp staff performs regular equipment safety checks to be sure that their campers (and fellow staff members) will not only have fun, but also be as safe as possible.
HEAT STRESS and DEHYDRATION PREVENTION
It seems so simple, and it’s so easy to forget. Children need to stay hydrated. Playing in the hot sun without water breaks can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be life threatening.
The nonprofit group Safe Kids USA suggests 12 ounces half an hour before a game/activity. Even with pre-hydration, children should take a break every 20 minutes or so during the game to drink some water or a sports drink.
CHEMICAL and MEDICATION LOCK-UP
When children hang around the house, they have time to get into things. Household products as mundane as laundry detergent or oven cleaner can be poisonous for curious kids at home.
Lock up medications; curious children are tempted by pill bottles and chemicals in a cabinet. This might mean a locked cabinet in the house, in the garage, and by the pool if you have one. Never transfer household chemicals into soda bottles or containers that might be mistaken as part of the afternoon snack.
Between ages 1 and 14, drowning is the second leading cause of death. And when your child is around water, whether it’s at the beach, a pool, lake, or river, make sure an adult who knows how to swim is there to supervise. It’s a good idea to have your child buddy up with a friend while swimming, but a child’s eyes should never replace those of an adult. If you have your own pool, be sure to install a fence with a gate so children can’t wander in unsupervised. For more water safety tips, feel free to contact Sun Country Sports Center’s SPLASH program.
KEEP A FIRST AID KIT ON HAND
Parents should keep a well-stocked first aid kit within easy reach. You never know what’s going to happen with kids and if your child goes to camp or plays on a team, talk to the adult in charge. Make sure the team has a first aid kit and ask who’s responsible for keeping it.
You can purchase a first aid kit at a local drug store and supplement it with things like the phone numbers of your family pediatrician, health insurer, along with a list of any conditions or allergies your children have. If anyone in your family has a condition that could require emergency medication, add the drug to the kit. Be sure to keep the kit well stocked and replace expired prescriptions.
BEWARE OF BAD BUGS
Insects have become more than an inconvenience now that some ticks carry Lyme disease and some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus. If ticks or mosquitoes are part of your landscape, there are several things you can do to protect your kids. Take a look at the woods where your kids play. Florida is heavily wooded, with thick brush. Make sure you check your child at the end of the day for ticks, and remove them. If you find a tick on your child, and you live where Lyme disease is common, speak to your doctor.
Insect repellents with DEET can keep bugs away but should be used with caution. Look for the concentration of DEET on the label — it should be between 10% and 30%. Lower concentrations work as well as higher concentrations, just not as long. A 10% concentration can repel insects for about 2 hours while a 30% concentration can work for about 5 hours. You should not apply bug spray more than once a day. You can also try products with lemon eucalyptus if you don’t want to expose your child to DEET.
The sun is at its peak between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Especially during these hours, children risk getting burned if they spend long periods in the sun. Clothes, shade, and sunscreen are all good ways to protect your child’s skin. Equip your child with a brimmed hat, sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays, and cotton clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Apply sunscreen with 15 SPF or higher, and be sure to reapply every 2 hours. Avoid lotions that combine sunscreen and bug repellant. Sunscreen needs to be applied more often than bug cream.
Summer is meant for fun and relaxation. It is often during the summer months that lifelong memories are made. Let’s do everything we can to keep ourselves (and our children) safe and happy, while making THIS summer one to remember!
Are you still searching for fun summer activities for your kids? Contact Sun Country Sports Center! Our FUNfest Summer Camps may be the answer!!!
Give us a ring at 352.331.8773 or visit us at Suncountrysports.com!