The summer is a great time to let the kids run wild outdoors and mix up the family routine. But we parents know how that can lead to accidents. Here are a few safety tips to review with the kids and keep in mind while enjoying the Pacific Northwest summer.
Little ones can drown in as little as two inches of water. Outfit your kids in age-appropriate life jackets (check out the Coast Guard's guidelines) that are in good condition.
Make sure your kids — even the ones who can swim — are under supervision at all times when in and around water. When swimming, kids should ideally have a buddy or adult within arm's reach. Introduce them to the lifeguard, if there is one, and make them feel comfortable asking for help.
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 30, which according to the American Academy of Dermatology blocks around 97 percent of the UVB rays that cause sunburn. (The higher the SPF number, the more rays it blocks; it doesn’t correlate to how often it needs to be applied. Get more ideas here.)
All sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or immediately after sweating or swimming. Apply more than you think; the recommended amount is about 2 tablespoons, or a full shot glass (1 ounce), for an adult with moderate skin exposure.
Don’t forget to protect lips and eyes, too. Try lip balm with sunscreen and polarized sunglasses.
Have a particularly fair or sunscreen-averse kid? Choose swimwear that protects against UV rays (look for the term "UVF clothing"). A 25-45 UVF rating is very good with a 4.1 to 2.6 percent UV exposure; 40 to 50-plus (or less than 2.5 percent exposure) is even better.
Loosening the reins for summer doesn’t mean loosening the rules. In fact, it may mean reinforcing some!
A later setting sun might encourage staying out late, so make sure that a curfew is communicated as well as possibly a buddy system among close friends or siblings. Consider offering cell phones to children who will be venturing away from home with friends, or try walkie talkies for shorter distances.
Be sure to review any and all safety rules as a family so everyone's on the same page.
To stay the most hydrated, kids should drink water, not sweetened drinks. They need at least six glasses of water a day, more if they're sweating and active. (They can lose around two cups of water if sweating profusely.)
How to keep filling those cups? Make drinking water a game that the whole family participates in, or add a splash of juice.
Room-temperature water is the best choice. Iced water seems like the right choice on a hot day, but extreme temperatures make it harder to drink the amount they need.
The solution for hiking safety is preparedness, as well as the tips on sunscreen, accountability and hydration. Before you go, toss a first aid kit in your pack and another in the glove compartment of your car. Research poisonous plants to be able to identify them and how to prepare if you encounter a wild animal. Remember to stay together and on the trail.