Practical advice about raising children
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Planes, trains, automobiles or backyards: What will be your pick for family fun this summer? The minute schools let out, the kids are officially on vacation. That means that mom and dad have to be on elevated alert to make sure the home front is also a safe zone for fun.
Those precautions can extend to the family vacation as well. It doesn't take a lot of effort to protect your loved ones, just a little planning. Do it right and they won't even notice you've become a super safety monitor. Here's what to keep in mind:
Around the Outdoors
The moment your kids step outside to play, they should be lathered with sunscreen. The minimal SPF factor is around 15. Thankfully, sunscreen companies have gotten with the program in terms of "ease of use." Now, you can find safe sunscreen options that come in sprays as well as lotions. Most sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. This is especially true if your kids are around water or sand, where the sun's reflections intensify. Keeping babies and toddlers covered with hats and long sleeves is also a good precaution.
If given the chance, the average kid would hit the backyard in the morning and not come back inside until it's time for dinner. As with sunscreen, you also want them to stay hydrated. That means taking drink breaks at least every twenty minutes when out in the heat. Make it easy by setting up a cooler of water. Keep in mind that the minute your kid feels thirsty, they are already dehydrated.
Depending on where you live, you might need to do a tick check when playtime is over – particularly if you’ve been in a wooded area. Ticks can be tricky and hard to spot, but you definitely want to catch them before they latch onto you or your child. If you find a tick, make sure you follow proper tick removal and disposal techniques.
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Around the Pool
If you have a pool in your backyard, it could become the most popular spot on the block. Rule number one: Never leave young kids alone by the pool. Ever. It doesn't matter how skilled they are at swimming or diving, they need supervision. You are the lifeguard now. Even your teens should know that you're keeping an eye out on them to prevent horseplay that can lead to injuries.
When enjoying your typical pool session, make sure you've got a phone outside, along with flotation rings and a shepherd's hook. For extra vigilance, take a CPR course. With a couple of hours’ training, you'll be good to go.
When visiting a new pool at a hotel, theme park or community center, make sure you give it the once over before the kids dive in. Specifically, make sure all the drains are covered, especially in the deep end. It doesn’t hurt to check the inspection reports as well, since as many as 80% of public pools had at least one violation in a recent study.
Around the Car
If a road trip is on the agenda, make sure your car is ready for the adventure. It might be time to review your child safety seat setups to make sure they conform to recommended standards (1 in 4 car seats are not used or installed properly). Of course, you should also travel with an emergency road kit, to help if the car breaks down in bad weather.
Once you get behind the wheel put down the cell phone. Between the road ahead and what's going on in the backseat, you don't need any other distractions.
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Around the Grill
Summer is all about grilling. As you work up your new marinade recipe, review the hot zone areas with your kids. There is nothing wrong with getting them to help out with the cooking, but make sure they’re aware of the potentially dangerous situations.
Ask any top chef and they'll recommend that before grilling, you bring meat and poultry to room temperature. This means setting it out on the counter for a bit, keeping it covered in a bowl or on a cutting board. After handing any type of raw meat or poultry, wash up and avoid using the same bowls or trays to transfer cooked meat, to avoid cross-contamination.
Of course, nothing can prevent your fair share of scrapes, cuts and bug bites. Fortunately that’s nothing that can't be taken care of with a well-stocked first aid kit. Between that and common sense precautions, your family can look forward to a super safe and fun summer.