Spring has sprung and it's exciting to get outside again regularly. Outdoor play is great for kids, helping them expend energy, socialize with other children, and stay healthy. Here are some safety tips to remember before opening the doors:
1. Bikes, skates, and scooters – Remember helmets and pads! Ensure that kids have a safe, vehicle-free area to ride and that they follow the manufacturer's guidelines for equipment (especially age recommendations).
2. Play areas – Make sure the environment is safe. Based upon annual emergency room visits, the items that are particularly important to watch include:
a. Pools (use gates/covers, alarms, and locks)
b. Tools (make sure they are locked away or stored properly)
c. Grills (keep them closed and take precautions with gas, charcoal, matches, and lighters)
d. Wells (make sure they're marked and covered)
e. Areas in disrepair or under construction
3. Playground equipment – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that over 200,000 children go to the ER each year from injuries associated with playground equipment. Check that swings, seesaws, and jungle gyms are not broken or in need of maintenance, particularly since they may have gone unused all winter. One of the biggest risks involves falls onto hard surfaces, such as wood or concrete. Make sure the kids only do activities that are appropriate for their age (e.g., equipment that's safe for a 12-year-old girl is probably too advanced for her younger brother.)
4. Sun safety – Ensure that kids use sunscreen, with an SPF factor of at least 15. Make sure that they're not outside too long on hot days (in fact, you may want to limit their exposure during peak hours on extremely hot days). Teach them to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Finally, dress them in loose-fitting, light-colored clothing on hot days.
5. Insects and animals – Spiders, wasps, bees, and ticks can all bite or sting kids. Try to avoid them and equally important, make sure that you and your kids remain aware of potential allergic reactions. Check with your pediatrician ahead of time about what to do in case of an allergic reaction so you are prepared and have the right medication/equipment available, particularly if you think your child may be allergic. Similarly, make sure your kids stay clear of snakes and non-domesticated animals.
6. Storm safety – Bad weather, including thunderstorms and lightning, can sneak up quickly on anyone, especially kids who may not anticipate the coming storm. If your kids do get caught in a storm, make sure that they know what to do, which includes:
a. Get to a safe area quickly (the best places are a sturdy building or car)
b. Avoid trees or tall towers
c. Avoid metal (including fences, bleachers, and even many types of umbrellas)
d. Avoid water (swimming, snorkeling, wading, or just playing in puddles can be unsafe)
Nothing beats playing outside! Just make sure your kids are safe and know what to do in case of problems. If you're still stuck inside this spring due to inclement weather or any one of the above safety reasons, Adventure to Fitness can help. A 30-minute adventure to Colonial America or the Serengeti can keep your kids active, healthy, and learning!