Play it safe this summer

01 March 2014

With warmer weather comes hidden dangers - some of which can be fatal. Here are a few things to look out for during summer.

Top tips to ensure your kids enjoy a healthy, happy summer It’s summer! But warmer weather comes with many hidden dangers – some of which can be fatal. Here’s what to look out for:

POOL SAFETY

Many South African homes have swimming pools but it’s not just pools that pose a drowning risk – our country also has plenty of rivers, dams and beaches.

Investing in swimming lessons for your kids should be one of your top priorities. If your kids can’t swim kit them out with wings or an inflatable vest.

Regardless of their swimming ability children should never be allowed in the water without adult supervision. A child can drown in seconds – the time it takes you to answer your phone.

SUNBURN

You’ve heard it a million times, but applying a good sunscreen every day and reapplying often – every two hours, especially if your kids are getting wet – is vital. And this goes for all skin types.

Look for one that says “broad spectrum” which means it offers protection against UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) rays. And don’t be swayed by high SPF factors – research has shown an SPF higher than 30 does little to increase protection. All it does is lull parents into a false sense of security so they forget to reapply regularly, which defeats the purpose altogether.

Add a hat and UV shades for extra protection.

KEEP HYDRATED

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential. It’s so easy for kids to become dehydrated in the sun, especially if they’re active and sweating. Water, milk and fruit juices are ideal. Caffeine is dehydrating so avoid cooldrinks, especially fizzy ones that contain this ingredient. Dizziness, nausea and feeling light-headed are all signs of dehydration and over-heating.

TICK BITES

So your kids love to go bundu-bashing or camping with their dad – but be warned: ticks, which carry many diseases, love bushy or wooded areas and high grass.

If your child shows signs of a fever, headache or fatigue and has a rash or skin ulcer they may have been bitten. To help prevent this, cover them with a long-lasting repellent and treat their clothing with it too. Pets can also carry ticks so check them often.

FOOD POISONING

Be wary of giving your child ham, chicken or egg sandwiches in their lunchboxes during hot weather – these proteins go off quickly and can lead to food poisoning. To help keep food safe, pack it into an insulated lunchbox and pop in an ice brick to keep it cool.

Fillings that won’t perish easily include peanut butter, hard cheese, low-sugar jams and salad ingredients. Always wrap food in tin foil or wax paper and tell your child not to leave their lunchbox in the sun.

PLAYGROUND SAFETY

If your child is has a bike, scooter or skateboard, prevent a trip to the ICU by insisting they wear a  helmet. Other safety gear includes elbow, shin and knee guards.

Trampolines can be dangerous and are a major cause of broken bones as well as concussion and neck and spinal injuries. Always make sure your kids have adult supervision when they’re bouncing around.

Be careful of hot metal slides; they can seriously burn skin.

TOP TIP: Put a frozen bottle of water into you child’s lunchbox – not only will it keep the food cool and safe it also provides a refreshing drink on a hot day.

- Nici de Wet

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