7 ways to keep young children safe in summer

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1. Supervision

Young children need constant supervision around water as they are especially at risk — they can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimetres) of water. That means drowning can happen where you’d least expect it

2. Swimming lessons

It’s never too early to begin swimming lessons to teach your children how to swim.

3. Life jackets/life vests

Invest in proper fitting, coast guard approved flotation devices (life jackets/life vests) and use them whenever your children are near water.

Check the weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your children try theirs on to make sure it fits snugly.

For children younger than 5 years old or older children who are smaller, choose a life jacket with a strap between the legs and head support – the collar will keep their head up and face out of the water.

Inflatable vests and arm devices such as water wings are not effective protection against drowning.

4. Fence in your pool

Having a fence (one that goes directly around the pool or spa) between the water and your house is the best safety investment you can make and will help prevent pool-related drownings.

5. Skin protection

Teach your children to be Sunsmart. Don’t forget the sunscreen and reapply frequently, especially if the children are getting wet. UV sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing can also help provide sun protection.

Keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun.

  • Babies less than 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin contains too little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour, and provides some protection from the sun.
  • Older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, particularly in the summer and between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest. If you go out when it’s hot, attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight. Do not cover the pushchair with a sheet or blanket as this increases the temperature inside the pushchair.
  • Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to your baby’s skin. SPF 50 is the best protection for babies and children. Make sure the product also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Many brands produce sunscreen specifically for babies and young children, as these products are less likely to contain additives that might irritate the skin. Apply the suncream regularly, particularly if your child is in and out of the sea or paddling pool. Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their neck when they’re playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
  • Make sure your child wears a sunhat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back to protect their head and neck from the sun

6. Stay hydrated

Like adults, babies and young children need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

  • If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you don’t need to give them water as well as breast milk. But they may want to breastfeed more than usual.
  • If you’re bottle feeding, as well as their usual milk feeds, you can give your baby cooled boiled water throughout the day and if they wake at night.

You can be creative when trying to keep your child hydrated. If they’re over 6 months old and get bored with water, try giving them a combination of very diluted fruit juice, ice cubes and homemade fruit juice lollies throughout the day. For older children, plenty of fruit and salad will also help keep their fluid levels up.

Signs of dehydration

Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, dark, yellow and strong smelling urine, decrease in wet nappies, passing urine less than 4 times a day, dry lips, mouth and eyes or nausea are just some of the signs of dehydration and overheating.

7. Keeping Cool

Follow the tips below to help keep your children cool and safe during hot weather.

Playing in a paddling pool is a good way of keeping babies and children cool. Keep the pool in the shade during very hot weather and supervise the children carefully at all times.

Run a cool bath before bedtime.

Keep your child’s bedroom cool during the day by closing blinds or curtains. You can also use a fan to circulate the air in the room.

Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum. If your baby kicks or pushes off the covers during the night, consider putting to bed in just a nappy with a single well-secured sheet that won’t work loose and cover their face or get entangled during the night.

A nursery thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of your baby’s room. Your baby will sleep most comfortably when their room is between 16C (61F) and 20C (68F).

It’s important that babies are kept cool when out an about in hot weather. Prams should be covered with a clip-on sunshade to keep baby out of direct sunlight and their temperature monitored to avoid overheating. Prams should not be covered with blankets, cloths or any cover that prevents the air from circulating. Covering a pram with a blanket could lead to overheating, which increases the chance of SIDS (The Lullaby Trust).