This post on summer safety for kids is brought to you today by my husband, the over-protective firefighter. It is sponsored by his desire to keep our kids safe and hopefully helps yours out as well.
Troy has always been the cautious guy in any group, but also the one who steps up and the does the right thing. I remember about seven years ago, meeting a friend for dinner in Seattle and bringing Troy and baby Jack along. We were waiting in line just to get into the crazy busy restaurant and heard a series of shouts. The crowd of people standing around (myself included) just stood there looking at each other. Troy took off and disappeared down an alley. We heard sirens within 10 minutes and saw Troy emerge from the alley with a metal pipe in his hands. He nonchalantly explained that he broke up a fight between some homeless guys, and one of them had been hit in the head with a pipe. He went and washed his hands, was interviewed by the cops, and by that time we finally got a table. The pizza was delicious, and Troy was the hero of the restaurant.
So, when I say that Troy wants to keep you and your family safe, I mean it. These summer safety for kids tips and ideas are things that we have personally implemented in our homes. We know they work because we do them ourselves. Read on for eight tips on summer safety for kids.
- Use window locks. When the temperatures rise, it is natural to open up windows to get some air flow. Window screens are not strong enough to keep your child safe and secure inside the home. With our remodel, some of our windows are new with in-tract locking functions. For our older windows, we use window locks to keep the windows safely cracked open. We install the locks in a way that allows for about three inches of air flow. Check with your local fire department, as some offer similar locks free of charge to the community.
- Child gates for open doors. We have two sets of French doors from our dining room and kitchen out on to our second story deck. Last year, when Bennett wasn’t mobile, we were lucky enough to have those open all summer. This year? This year, he is crazy and all over the house. We now keep one child gate in each open doorway when we are taking advantage of the fresh air. As we don’t want to impact the integrity of the doorframe, we chose to not install permanent child gates. Instead, we use simple pressure mount gates that are effective, and inexpensive. One of ours came from Goodwill and was only $5.
- Securing open doors. We live close to the water, and can often get some random gusty breezes hitting the front of the house. Our French doors face the water, so to make sure they stay secure when opened, Troy has crafted a super easy (and free) looping system. For one door, he simply threaded a strong piece of rope through the deck railing. When we open the door to get fresh air, we hook the rope over the external door knob and then install the child gate. For our other door, he simply turned a screw hook into the side of the house and attached a similar rope loop. Should a strong wind come along, no fingers will get pinched in these doors!
- Deck safety. Our deck has wire railings that have very narrow gaps between them. Even though Bennett couldn’t get his big fat head through any nooks or crannies, Troy still went the extra step to lock our deck down tighter than Attica. He attached fencing from the feed store to all the vertical railings. You can’t even spit through this stuff. Not that we have tried. Because…that would be gross?
- Campfires and grills. Campfires and grills get hot. Not a news flash by any means, but a good reminder that kiddos can burn themselves on these items. For outdoor campfires or fire pits, a metal baby gate around the perimeter can keep little hands away from hot spaces. Troy grills on our deck, so we simply shut the doors and keep Bennett inside when it is in use.
- Water safety. When temperatures rise, it is natural to want to escape to the water for a cooling dip. In the Pacific Northwest, our water stays cold year round. The Puget Sound is about 50ish degrees, which means it doesn’t take long for swimmers to get themselves in trouble. Most of our rivers are from mountain snow melt and move very quickly, so even experienced and strong swimmers can become overwhelmed. First and foremost, don’t go swimming when you are drinking. You’re not as alert in those moments, and can be distracted from your own safety, as well as small children. Adults and kids should be in life jackets in open water, and small children would strongly benefit from a life jacket in the pool. While water floaties are fun, they are not a substitute a for US Coast Guard approved life vest.
Now, that Troy has had his say, it is my turn make my plug for two things I care about very much – skincare and hydration. My buttwhiteness is legendary and every present. I once got a sunburn, through a bus window, in London…in March. SPF is serious business in my life. Troy’s skin tans instantly, but our ghost children got my skin tone. Lucky little punks. 🙁
I am a stickler for hats on their pale little (huge) noggins when they’re outside for more than 20 minutes. Jack prefers ball caps, and Bennett gets whatever I shove on to his head. He has a range of straw fedoras and SPF fabric sunhats that we picked up at Costco. Both boys have long-sleeved, sun-blocking, rash guards to wear when they are in our little pool, or running through the sprinkler.
My friend Anne has two boys, and I watched her parent like a boss well before I had kids. I remember watching her apply sunscreen on her (then) three-year-old, calling it dragon block. She later explained to me that while her son hated sunscreen, he loved dragon block to keep himself protected from rogue dragons. I adapted this technique for my boys, and we still call it dragon block to this day. Most days, parenting is easily 55% marketing. 🙂
The perfect sunscreen can be hard to find because everyone has specific requirements. You want something with a strong SPF, that is waterproof, coats the skin well, but isn’t hard to apply. The aerosol mist sunscreens are now a no-go for kids with asthma, and there are some other environmental concerns. Plus, maybe I am the only person who constantly gets that stuff in my mouth. We use this Kiss My Face squirt sunscreen, and really like it. The squirt means it is easy to put on, the lack of “mist”action makes it safer for the earth, and the ingredients aren’t scary.
On days when the boys want to play outside all day, we use our pop up tent to cover their play area. It goes over our little pool perfectly and covers both our hand me down water table and mini rolling sandbox. We just view it as an extra layer of sun protection for these two little translucent kids.
We all hear that kids shouldn’t really be drinking juices, sports drinks, or soda/pop, and should just focus on water. It is important to keep the littles hydrated when playing outside in the elements. Both my kiddos like water, but will go gaga when we add fresh or frozen fruit to it. For electrolyte hydration, coconut water is an awesome natural version of Gatorade. Jack doesn’t like coconut water, but frankly, he doesn’t realize I add it to popsicle molds along with chopped fruit, and leftover smoothies. #ninjahydration Bottom line, keep them drinking good stuff during hot weather. For the big people and Jack, we use Liberty Bottleworks bottles. Bennett is still enamored with throwing things on the ground, so we use these Contigo bottles until he learns some manners. Oh man, I have to be the one to teach him those manners? Balls.
Summer is a fun time to be a kid, but it can be daunting as a parent to keep them safe and healthy. Hopefully, the above tips will generate some conversations about summer safety for kids in your own household.
PS, I didn’t talk about insect repellants in this post, because one of the awesome things about being in the Seattle area, is a lack of annoying winged pests. We walk through long grass in shorts, and never worry about ticks or those kinds of critters. Mosquitoes can be an occasional presence, but honestly just invite my sister to your outdoor event, and they won’t bother you. I do believe her blood is 94% sugar.