Children are naturally inquisitive so the summer holidays are a great time for them to get out and really experience the world around them. During the summer months however, there is a rise in injuries associated with play and leisure activities. As parents you need to be aware of safely issues, but this isn’t a reason to stop children enjoying activities. Don’t be the Fun Prevention Parent! In many cases, simple steps can be taken to avoid injury.

New places to explore

If you go to stay with friends or relatives, their home or garden might not be as child-friendly as your home. Children naturally like to explore new surroundings, so make sure they don’t go far on their own. Ask your hosts to place medicines and cleaning products out of sight and out of reach. Make sure you also check features such as ponds, barbecues and garden tools.

A few simple steps, such as nominating an adult to watch the children at a party, can reduce the risks.

  • Protect your Children from the Sun
  • Use a sun protection factor (SPF) cream of 15 or more
  • Cover them up with a hat and T-shirt
  • Spend time in the shade between 11:00am and 3:00pm

Being safe around water

Water is fascinating for youngsters. . It’s great fun and great exercise, butof course any of us can drown. Even the best supervisors and carers can get briefly distracted, and all it takes to drown is three minutes face-down in water.

In 2012, 18 children under the age of 15 drowned in the UK. This included four at the beach or coast, and five in the bath. Among the 16-19 age group, 24 people drowned, at sites including beaches, rivers, canals and lakes. Seven of these happened while swimming, and three from jumping or diving into water.

Ponds

Younger children between two and six years old are particularly vulnerable to drowning in features such as ponds or small water containers. Sadly between 5 and 10 children a year drown in garden ponds. If you’ve got a toddler, the best thing to do is fill the pond in with sand to make a sand pit. Otherwise, cover the pond with a substantial grille, or put a fence around it.”

Open water

Older children, especially teenagers, are most at risk from features near to homes such as rivers, lakes, flooded quarries and coastal water near to the shore. Having an early conversation with teens about the risks of colder, open water is important.
Even the strongest swimmer can be affected by cold water shock, which affects your ability to control breathing. This can lead to gasping, panic and – in the worst cases – drowning. Cold water shock can start in water of 15C – the average temperature of the sea around Britain is 12C.

Choosing to swim at a lifeguarded beach or lido is the safest option. Get in slowly, choose shallow spots, and if you’re at the beach, check for dangerous currents and tides. Always follow local safety advice if you are going into open water.

Holiday pools, villas and hotels

Holidays can be the highlight of the summer. When booking a holiday, check the following:

  • Does the pool have a lifeguard or pool attendant? It is often the case that a pool attendant is only responsible for keeping the poolside clean, rather than ensuring safety in the water.
  • Does the pool have a barrier? In many countries, such as France, this is now the law. Having a fence is particularly important at villas if you have younger children.

Safety check list

  • Remember these safety tips if you and your family are visiting an area where there is water:
  • Go for a walk around the pool, beach, lake or river, looking for any hazards (such as rocks) and where the emergency equipment is.
  • Ask if there is a lifeguard on duty. Remember, a pool attendant isn’t the same as a lifeguard and might not have the same qualifications.
  • Read the water safety information signs at the beach, and ask a lifeguard or tourist information officer where the safest area is to swim.
  • Ask if there are any dangerous currents or tides.
  • Consider taking a short (one or two-hour) course in first aid and the key things to know in an emergency.
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