Summer Safety for You & Yours

With summer in full swing and July 4th just past, I thought this would be a good time to pass along some summer safety tips courtesy of American Academy of Pediatrics, Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs and the National Institutes of Health.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks can result in severe burns, blindness, scars, and even death. Even fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can burn users and bystanders. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using them at home.

Mosquitoes, ticks and other biters and stingers

Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays. Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom. Avoid dressing in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints. To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently back it out by scraping it with a credit card or your fingernail. Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied. Use insect repellents containing DEET when needed to prevent insect-related diseases. Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile, Chikungunya Virus and other viruses. The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product. Carefully read the label of any product you purchase. Children should wash off repellents when they return indoors. When outside in the evenings or other times when there are a lot of mosquitoes present, cover up with long sleeved shirts, pants and socks to prevent bites and don’t forget to check for ticks.

Bicycle Safety

A helmet protects both you and your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. Wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many injuries happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. Children learn best by observing you. Set the example. Whenever you ride, put on your helmet. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.

Skateboard, Scooter, In-Line Skating & Heelys Safety 

All skateboarders and scooter-riders should wear protective gear; helmets are particularly important for preventing and minimizing head injuries. Riders should wear helmets that meet ASTM or other approved safety standards, and that are specifically designed to reduce the effects of skating hazards. And don’t forget the elbow, wrist and knee pads. NEVER skate in the street in or near moving traffic. The car will always win.

All-Terrain Vehicles

Children too young to have a driver’s license should not be allowed to operate or ride off-road vehicles. They are involved in about 30 percent of all ATV-related deaths and emergency room-treated injuries. Never ride double. Passengers can make ATV’s unstable because they are designed to carry only ONE person – the driver.

All ATV riders should take a hands-on safety training course, wear approved helmets designed for motorcycle use, eye protection, over the ankle shoes and protective, reflective clothing. Never permit nighttime riding or street use of off-road vehicles. Flags, reflectors and lights should be used to make vehicles more visible. NEVER drink and drive

Lawn Mower Safety

Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving when the handle is released. Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers. Make sure that sturdy shoes are worn while mowing.

Prevent injuries from flying objects by checking for stones or toys before mowing begins. Hearing and eye protection is always recommended.

Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas. Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover. Keep guards, shields, switches, and safety devices in proper working order at all times.

Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.

Master Water Safety

Water-related activities are popular for getting physical activity and cooling off on a hot day. Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning. ALWAYS supervise children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children. Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life. Install a four-sided fence around home pools to prevent accidents.

Boating can be a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Make boating safety a priority. ALWAYS wear a properly fitted life jacket every time you and your loved ones are on the water.

Heat-Related Safety

Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Anyone can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention. NEVER leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. Dress in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Schedule outdoor activities for the cooler morning and evening hours. Drink plenty of water. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks act as diuretics and, while tasty and cooling, can quickly add to dehydration on a hot day. Seek medical care immediate if you or your child has symptoms of heat-related illness.


Just a few serious sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Your skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever you’re outdoors. Cover up. Clothing that covers your and your child’s skin helps protect against UV rays. Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside. Reapply sunscreen often if you’re swimming or working and sweating heavily.

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