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School’s out, the sun’s out and holidays have begun, it’s time to get out and enjoy yourself but when you do, be mindful of some practical safety tips to avoid accidents. Accidents to children in and around the home are one of the most common reasons for children to attend an accident and emergency department with over two million visits each year. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, most of these accidents take place ‘between late afternoon and early evening, in the summer, during school holidays and at weekends’.
In the Sun
The first thing that should spring to mind when you think, sun safety should be suncream and this is especially important for children. Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes so suncream should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside so the skin can absorb it and factor 15 at the very minimum. It needs to be applied thickly, reapplied every few hours and if you’re planning on swimming then make sure it’s waterproof.
Having said that, suncream alone is not a magic cure to protecting your skin, in the short term sunburn can cause discomfort but in the long term, it’s doing harmful damage and can lead to premature ageing of the skin and even cancer. It is much better to keep skin covered under hats and clothing and limit your time in direct sunshine, especially during the middle of the day.
Another important thing to remember when out in the heat is to stay hydrated, try to remember to take your own water from home and you’ll save both money and plastic waste.
In the Garden
When the weather is good the garden is a perfect playground for children, there’s so much fun to be had there for free! Summer is a great time to get out there yourself and have a look around to make sure it’s safe for them to enjoy. Check play equipment, if you’re anything like ours some will have been lying out since last summer and be past it’s best – throw it away before it becomes a hazard.
Now is also a good time to cut back brambles, weeds and any other potentially irritating plants. Whilst you do keep an eye out for any insect nests because children are inquisitive and bound to find them. Here in the UK we can be mainly confident nothing is too venomous, however, even a caterpillar can cause skin irritation and there’s the potential of an allergic reaction to any bite. You can’t clear the garden of creepy crawlies but you can educate children on what they might find.
What you can and should clear the garden of are any tools or chemicals that maybe there. Weed killers etc can be highly toxic, make sure anything like that is securely stored out of harm’s way.
Don’t forget water safety either, if you have any kind of water feature in your garden that’s not fenced off, do not leave young children unattended with them. It is particularly important to remember this if you’ve just put out a paddling pool temporarily, be sure to keep the garden closed off until you’re all ready to go out and enjoy it.
In the home
One of the main causes of accidents, wherever you go, is trips and falls and this is yet another thing that increases over the summer months and can be a cause of serious injury to children. Home from the holidays and with more time to play around the home, children’s toys can be a trip hazard – what a great way to remind them to tidy up after themselves! Make sure stairs and any other area of the home with potential for falls are secured and not used as a play area. There are more cases of falls from height in the summer with windows left open and balconies in use. If at a child’s height these should be kept locked shut or on a safety catch to stop them fully opening.
When leaving your home if just for a day trip or a holiday, don’t forget that this is a peak time for burglaries. Ensure your house is entirely locked up before you leave and don’t leave valuables on display or in the garden. As tempting as it is to post holiday snaps when you’re away, there is the potential of these being seen by the wrong person and advertising your home as empty. Piled up post and leaflets can also alert burglars to an empty home, so ask a neighbour to keep an eye on it and move your mail inside whilst you’re gone. Finally, if you haven’t already and are worried, consider having an alarm fitted and get some expert advice to keep your home safe and minimise the risk of burglary.
On the move
However you’re travelling, car, train or plane it’s always sensible to have a safety plan and especially so if you’re with children. Always talk through this on outings so it doesn’t seem scary or strict and instead becomes something that they just know. Think about things like what to do in an emergency, if you become separated or they get lost. It’s a good idea to tell them to stay put so you can come back for them and also who to ask for help; we’ve always said if there’s no one in uniform then ask a person who has children. If you’re travelling by London Underground, I wrote a guide to getting around with children.
When getting on a plane, train, boat or staying in a hotel read their safety and evacuation notices together, you could walk through this or point out the emergency exits and meeting points. In cars make sure children are securely strapped into the correct booster seat and if you’re regularly travelling in taxis or hire cars consider getting a portable car seat.