I’m not much of a worrier, really I’m not. Like my fellow Strollerderby blogger KJ, I think we’ve gone a bit overboard when it comes to protective gear for kids. Kids are kids, after all. They’re bound to get hurt.
But I also don’t see any reason to court disaster. So just to be safe, I apply sunscreen to my kids before going outside and I make sure they wear helmets when we go bike riding.
According to The Dallas Morning News, which polled experts, most parents — myself included — have certain dangerous misconceptions about summertime safety:
1. MYTH: Your kids are safe at a pool party as long as adults are around.
TRUTH: All of the socializing and excitement at pool parties could lead to serious accidents or drownings even if adults are nearby. Often, grown ups assume that someone else has an eye on the pool. What can you do? Take turns having a designated adult watch the water. You might also consider having the kids do “buddy checks.”
2. MYTH: You don’t need to wear sunscreen if it’s cloudy out.
FACT: You can get a severe sunburn even on a cloudy day. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises using clothing and hats to avoid sun exposure, particularly for babies younger than 6 months, and applying sunscreen of at least 15 SPF that protects against UVA and UVB rays — regardless of the weather. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours after swimming or sweating. I know it’s a pain, but so are blisters, sun poisoning and skin cancer.
3. MYTH: The heat doesn’t become a real health problem until July or August.
FACT: Since our bodies haven’t had time to acclimatize, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are more common early in the season. So don’t overdo it! Limit time outside — especially during the hottest time of the day. And be sure to hydrate (see myth 5).
4. MYTH: As long as they’re wearing floaties, little ones are safe in the water.
FACT: Don’t leave kids unsupervised by water even for a moment. Drowning is the second-leading cause (after cars) of injury-related death for children 1 to 14 years old. Floaties can fall off or deflate. They give children (and grown-ups) a false sense of security.
5. MYTH: Children will let you know when they are thirsty.
FACT: I know it gets tiring asking your child if they’re thirsty. But by the time a child becomes thirsty, it may be too late and he or she may already be dehydrated. According to the Dallas Morning News, a child under 100 pounds should be drinking five or six ounces of water or sports drink every 15 minutes or so that they are active outdoors. So bring along a water bottle (or two) and don’t forget to drink too!
6. MYTH: It’s fine to leave kids in the car for just a few minutes.
FACT: Children don’t handle extreme heat well. Even with the windows rolled down, a car can get mighty hot in the summer (rising to more than 170 F) if the outside temperature is between 80 and 100 F. Kids could get severely ill or die in that heat.
7. MYTH: Loving parents would never forget a child in a car.
FACT: It’s too easy for parents to forget a sleeping child in the back seat. Some experts recommend leaving your purse or brief case next to your child so you won’t forget them when you leave the car. The New York Times just wrote a very informative story about the topic of babies left behind in cars.
Now — if you’re not completely freaked out for the potential for danger — go out there and make this is a fun, SAFE summer!