Tips for a Safe Summer For Children

Medically Reviewed by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Millions of families plan to enjoy summer vacations and recreational activities with their children. To really enjoy these activities, the safety of the children should be a primary concern.

Pool Safety

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.

  • Make sure adults watching young children in the pool know CPR and can rescue a child if necessary.

  • Surround your pool - on all four sides - with a sturdy five-foot fence.

  • Make sure the gates self-close and self-latch at a height children can't reach.

  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd's hook - a long pole with a hook on the end - and life preserver) and a telephone near the pool.

  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as "floaties". They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.

  • Children are not developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their fourth birthday. Swim programs for children under the age of 4 should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.

  • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for children and infants in diapers. You can spread germs into the water and make other people sick.

  • Don't swallow pool water. In fact, try to avoid getting any pool water in your mouth.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers. You can protect others by being aware that germs on your body end up in the water.

Fun in the Sun

  • Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of the direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade or under a tree, umbrella, or the stroller canopy.

  • Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs and use brimmed hats.

  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days.

  • The sun protection factor (SPF) should be at least SPF 15.

  • Try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., that's when the sun's rays are strongest.

Bug Safety

  • Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child as these products may attract stinging insects.

  • Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.

  • Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints as the bright colors attract stinging insects such as bees and wasps.

  • To remove a visible insect stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail. You can also remove a stinger by pinching it out with a pair of tweezers or your fingers.

Playground Safety

  • Carefully maintain all equipment.

  • Swings should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic, or canvas.

  • Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.

  • Make sure metal slides are cool to prevent childrens' legs from getting burned.

Dog Bites

  • If you are getting a pet as a companion for your child, wait until your child is mature enough to handle and care for the animal - usually around age five or six.

  • Never leave your infant or young child alone with any dog.

  • Teach your child some basic safety precautions for dealing with dogs outside your home, such as not surprising or scaring a dog or never approaching an unfamiliar dog.

  • Instruct your child to stand still if approached or chased by a strange dog. Tell your child not to run, kick or make threatening gestures. Your child should face the dog and back away slowly until he or she is out of reach.

  • Contact your pediatrician whenever your child receives an animal bite that breaks the skin, no matter how minor the injury appears. The doctor will need to check whether your child has been adequately immunized against tetanus.