Summer Safety Tips for Your Family

Summer Safety Tips for Your Family

In Canada, summer brings outdoor fun, family time, and relaxation. Many of us will get the chance to go camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, golfing, biking or boating. Others will spend time in the backyard gardening, or simply soaking up the sun on a lounger. Whatever your summer plans, be sure to factor safety into them. While we are now thoroughly versed in taking precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, it’s easy to forget that warmer weather brings some dangers of its own. Here are some ways to protect your family during the summer months.


Fun in the Sun


One of the hallmarks of summer is the sun, so welcome after long Canadian winters. But too much of a good thing can be dangerous. When we are out in the sun enjoying ourselves, it can be easy to forget basic sun safety rules. These include:


  • Hot cars. Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car. In the enclosed space of a vehicle, temperatures can rise rapidly and become life-threatening in an astonishingly short amount of time. Take your child with you, even if it means waking them up for a brief trip into a store. And if your dog can’t accompany you everywhere you’re going, please leave it at home.


  • Exercise. Use common sense while exercising. If you’re out in the hot sun, limit strenuous exercise to a short span of time. Hydrate before beginning, stay hydrated, and take breaks in the shade. Learn the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and know what to do if these symptoms appear.


  • Alcohol. Limit alcohol intake, which is dehydrating. Heat can exacerbate the intoxicating effects of alcohol, meaning that you get intoxicated faster than you might otherwise.


  • Sunburn. Pay attention to the UV Index values before going outdoors. Limit your exposure to the sun during times of day when it is at its hottest. (10 am to 4 pm.) Apply sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 before sun exposure, and regularly while you’re out in the sun. (Experts recommend applying it at least 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplying at least every two hours after that.) Dress sensibly for conditions; tight woven cotton clothes or rash guard sun clothing offer more protection than other types. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Over the course of your activities, spend time in the shade as well as in the sun. Protect children and infants, who are particularly vulnerable to damage from UV rays, as recommended by Health Canada. Be mindful that pets can suffer sun damage, too, or paw burns from walking on hot asphalt.

  • Swimming. Never leave a child unattended in the water. If you have a pool at home, make sure it’s fenced in and locked securely when not in use, and that you have rescue equipment (such as a “shepherd’s hook,” a life preserver, a buoyant rope, and lifejackets) close at hand. Any person who cannot swim should wear a lifejacket while in the water. If you swim on a beach or at a public pool, make sure there is a lifeguard on duty. Never swim alone. Learn how to recognize the signs of drowning and act quickly if you see someone struggling. Never dive into unfamiliar waters, and never go swimming after drinking alcohol or using drugs.


Outdoor Hazards


It’s also useful to take a bit of time to consider some of the activities we do during the summertime. These might include:


  • Lawn mowing. Because it’s such a regular task, we tend to forget that mowing the law can be hazardous. Be sure to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, keep children and pets away from the area, and remove toys, stones, and sticks from the lawn before mowing. Be sure the blade motion of your mower stops when you stop pushing the control. Always turn the mower off before pulling it across gravel, paths, or roads, or when attempting to unclog the blades.


  • Insects. Summer is also the time that insects return in full force in Canada, and it makes sense to avoid areas where these are concentrated, such as thick undergrowth and tall grass, which can harbour ticks, or standing water, where mosquitoes congregate. Wear insect repellent with DEET, following the recommendations regarding their use. Know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and West Nile virus, and see your doctor if you suspect you may have been infected.

  • Campfires. Who doesn’t enjoy an evening around the fire while camping or after a day of summer activities? Just make sure that your campfire is built safely, away from buildings or combustible materials, attended at all times, and that you have buckets of sand and water with which to extinguish it nearby.


  • Potluck picnics. When families or friends gather, food is often at the heart of the celebration. Remember that in hot weather, food safety can be a concern. Make sure that meat is cooked to the proper temperature, keep foods that need refrigeration cool with cold packs, and remember to bring clean safe water for drinking.


Stay safe this summer and enjoy this beautiful season to the fullest!