Even though summer has just begun, and many parts of the country are experiencing extreme heat waves, we thought it would be helpful to share some summer safety tips on how to keep your children cool and safe during this road trip season.
Cool Car Seat Safety
- Keep them Cool in their Car seat. The first part of any trip will start in your car. On a sunny 80-degree day, the heat inside a parked car can escalate between 130 to 172 degrees. That’s a scorching hot car seat for your baby’s tender skin. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children are extremely sensitive to heat, and get hot up to five times faster than adults.
- Cool Down the Car. Place stick-on sunshades on the windows to keep the car cool while it’s parked and add removable sun shades to the front dash. If you have time, start the car early and run the AC before your child enters the car.
- Cool the Car seat. Try a car seat sunshade like this one from Mommy’s Helper. Cover your child’s seat with it after every ride to help block out the heat from the sun. Before putting your child in the seat, check for hot spots like the chest clip and crotch buckles.
Secure Loose Items:
- There can be quite a bit of gear you’re taking on your summer road trip, but only bring what you need. Make sure to secure any loose items to prevent them from becoming projectiles in the event of a crash. You can learn more about crash forces in our blog post May the Force Not be with You.
Take a Summertime First Aid Kit:
- Cell phone
- Antibiotic ointment for cuts and scrapes
- Crushable ice packs
- Aloe Vera gel or sunburn spray
- Hats & sunglasses
- Insect repellent spray
- Epi pen for someone with known allergies
- Wet wipes
Keep them Cool
- Stay cool in the car. Give your toddlers and older children a spray bottle to keep them cool. Just make sure they’re not squirting you with water while you’re driving. You can also wet your child’s hair and skin if they’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Make sure not to get their clothes wet if you’re going somewhere cold or air conditioned.
- Use a cooling towel like this one from Frogg Toggs before they get back in their car seat. Never place towels between your child and their car seat because it can inhibit the seats ability to properly restrain your child in a crash.
- Skip the Car Seat Rental. If you’ll be flying out to your summer destinations you might be tempted to rent a car seat from the car rental agency. However, there’s a very small chance that you will know the history of that car seat, whether it’s been in a crash, reached the expiration date, been washed properly or if it’s comfy for your child. Consider purchasing a seat and installing the car seat on the airplane for your child’s optimal protection. Diono’s Radian rXT is FAA certificated, folds flat, and can be worn as a backpack during transport. It is also narrow enough to fit on most airplane seats. Check with your airline for seat dimensions.
Fun in the Sun
- Keep Infants out of the Sun. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants avoid sun exposure and are dressed in lightweight clothing and brimmed hats. If longer clothing isn’t an option a small amount of sunscreen can be applied to their face, back of hands, and legs.
- Apply Sunscreen Early and Repeat. For older children apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher about 15 to 30 minutes before going into the sun and water so that it has time to absorb into their skin. Reapply every two hours and after your child has been playing in the water, sweating, or towel drying off. The shade can also offer a false sense of security. While shading you from the heat, UV rays can still become reflected and give you a sunburn.
- Plan for Early Morning Play. Try your best to avoid peak sun hours between 10am – 4pm. This is when the sun’s rays are the most intense, giving you and your little ones a higher chance of getting a sunburn.
- Check the Weather. This might sound obvious when planning your outdoor activities, but it’s helpful to also check the UV index which predicts cloud movements, the sun’s position and other important stats. Check out weather.com
- Stay Hydrated. Children should drink plenty of water before and after playing. Make sure they take frequent breaks in between playtime so that they don’t feel thirsty. To prevent dehydration kids should drink 12 ounces of fluid every 30 minutes before an activity. Kids under 90 pounds should drink five ounces of water every 20 minutes. A child’s gulp is about half an ounce of fluid, so 10 gulps every 20 minutes is ideal. Keeping track of gulping could turn out to be a fun game! Look out for warning signs of dehydration such as thirst, headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, extreme fatigue, irritability, or weakness.
- Get CPR Certified. Although playing in the water is fun, there’s always a drowning risk involved. Parents and caretakers should consider brushing up or get Infant Child CPR certified. Many local organizations like the YMCA or American Red Cross offer excellent certification programs.
- Keep an Eye Out. Drain all kiddie pools after each use. Just a few inches of water can be unsafe for children and is also a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Houses with pools should have a fence up at least four feet high on all sides to prevent children from walking into the pool area. Never leave children alone in or near water even for a brief moment. They should be accompanied by an adult who can swim. Children are less likely to drown if they’ve had swimming lessons. The local YMCA often offers children’s swimming lessons.
- Pool Water is not for hydration. In fact, drinking too much water can cause dry drowning. Symptoms may show up long after getting out of the water. Be sure your child is not drinking too much of the pool water for many other reasons, as well.
- Boating Safety. Children should always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when on a boat, dock or near bodies of water. Make sure the jacket fits correctly on your child. A loose PFD will not keep a child’s head above water, which is why it’s important to make sure it has a proper snug fit, is zipped and strapped up. Blow up toys, rafts, and air mattresses are not life jackets and shouldn’t be used as such.
- Regardless of whether or not life jackets are worn, having a buoy on hand is always a good idea to help anyone who has fallen into a body of water.
The last and most important safety tip this summer above all is to have fun! Try not to become overwhelmed by too many safety precautions. Summer is all about having fun and being outdoors. By being prepared and cautious for the big and little things that can happen on your outings you’re more likely to be relaxed knowing you have a plan for any potential emergencies. Have fun this summer and stay cool!