As children grow, they have a compelling need to explore the outdoors and gain independence. Unfortunately, we can’t keep them protected in bubble wrap forever, but this doesn’t mean we can’t take active steps to ensure safety is of highest priority.
In the summer especially, youths will take to the great outdoors during their prolonged leave from school and it’s therefore important to not only educate them in keeping safe, but also prepare for any accidents and health issues that could occur.
This guide has been created to do exactly this. You can find plenty of useful information packed within and learn how to handle situations and scenarios as they occur.
All Year Round Child Safety Tips
At all times of the year there’ll be something fun presenting itself to children and as such, new dangers to be aware of. Because of this, it’s important to consider safety concerns and how your children could be affected.
Throughout this guide we’ll discuss the potential risks of seasons in more depth, but for a quick burst of information, we’ve included this section for you.
During winter, it’s particularly snow and ice that’s going to be a major cause of concern. Whenever snow is falling or is on the ground, extra precaution has to be taken in order to stay safe. Of course, children could remain indoors in the safety of their own home, but the chances are they’ll be falling over themselves in an effort to get outside.
In particular, wintertime brings with it the importance of being adequately dressed. Prolonged exposure to cold weather can result in a number of illnesses and serious effects, such as frostbite, hyperthermia and flu. As such, wrapping up warm is vital, whilst wet clothes should be removed as soon as possible to avoid potential illness.
For an in-depth checklist of keeping safe during the winter, please see our dedicated section further on in this guide.
Once winter is out of the way, a new set of problems emerges with the introduction of spring and then summer. In spring especially, allergies can become a problem. This could present itself in the form of hay fever and insect allergies, being particularly dangerous to those suffering from asthma.
Then, in summer, the sun is at its height and precautions need to be taken to prevent skin damage. As such, as parents you should be teaching children about the dangers of the sun and how best to keep protected from harmful ultraviolet rays. Sun cream becomes a significant factor over this time.
Of course, with the long summer days in abundance, water safety should also be encouraged. Youths are more likely to spend time at the beach, pool or even lake. As long as children are taught to swim, there shouldn’t be too much of a worry. However, what’s worth reiterating is the message of staying within comfort zones and not swimming too far out. There may even be local rules in place for youths to follow.
Warning Your Children of Stranger Danger
Children often have an innocence where they’ll talk to strangers without thinking twice. Of course, in the playground you wouldn’t worry about your child speaking to and playing with other children, but adults on the other hand are a completely different kettle of fish.
In the 21st Century it has become ever important to ensure your children are aware of the danger of strangers and how best to act in certain situations. It’s a huge shame this has to be the case, but horror stories from the news of children disappearing has resulted in an attitude where we can no longer be as relaxed as we’d like to.
Essentially, a stranger is someone you don’t know and this needs to be discussed with your children. Youths will often come to the conclusion that bad strangers have a scary appearance and demeanour, but this isn’t necessarily true. If a child needs help though at any time, the chances are they’ll approach a stranger. This is where education comes in, as you explain who can and can’t be trusted.
Which strangers can be trusted?
If youths are out, about and in trouble, they’ll need someone to speak to and help out in a situation. A safe stranger in this instance would be a police officer or firefighter – However, what are the chances of bumping in to either of these? As such, there needs to be a backup option.
Emphasis needs to be placed on youths asking for help in a public place. This could be a school, supermarket or even restaurant. For younger children especially, you should make a habit of pointing out safe strangers as and when you cross their path.
Remember though, it’s not just children approaching strangers that can be potentially dangerous though, but also vice versa. Many adults have good intentions, but you can never be sure. Youths should therefore be aware of suspicious behaviour and know adults will not usually ask a child for help.
If a scenario does occur and a child becomes worried, the practice of No, Go, Yell, Tell should be enforced. This is pretty self-explanatory and the youth should say no, run away from the situation, yell and tell someone of trust about the encounter.
It’s also worth reinforcing the following situations, so your children are aware of the sort of things to be on the lookout for:
A stranger approaches asking for help in the search for their lost dog
A stranger recognised from the neighborhood invites the child to their house
A stranger says the child’s parents have asked them to pick the youth up from school
A stranger pulls over in a car to ask a child for directions.
Throughout the year it’s also advised to be aware of emergency situations and how best to react to them. You should also have an appropriate first aid kit at home to treat injuries, whilst knowing when hospital treatment would be required.
One such injury children are susceptible to are animal bites and scratches. These can become infected if not treated correctly and regardless of whether the animal is a family pet or in the wild, it could be carrying a disease.
Children are injected with a tetanus jab to protect against this, and if your child hasn’t yet, they will likely need a shot to prevent infection.
Here is a general guideline as to the correct course of action to take if your child is bitten or scratched:
f the wound occurs on the face, hand, foot or near a joint
Bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes
The attack was from a stray or wild animal
Swelling, redness or pain doesn’t go away
The child isn’t up-to-date with tetanus immunisation.
At all times of the year it’s important to protect against and know how to react to potentially serious injuries, including sprains and breaks. Any broken bone requires emergency care and could be after the child heard a snap, has difficulty moving or is moving unnaturally.
On the other hand, sprains can be treated at home after a medical examination confirms it’s not a serious injury. These occur when ligaments, muscles or tendons overstretch and tear. This is particularly common in sporting activity and results in pain, bruising and swelling in the area.
Reacting to potential breaks and sprains
If a child picks up a serious injury in the neck or back, do not attempt to move them as this could only worsen the situation and cause further damage, particularly to nerves. In this instance, you should call for immediate medical help. The child will need to be correctly immobilised, so the neck, head and back are all moved as one.
f the break is protruding through skin, you should also seek immediate medical help and not move the child. If bleeding, apply light pressure to stem the flow and under no circumstances attempt to push bone back into place.
For whatever the break, you should also use ice wrapped in cloth to cover the area and ensure the child remains as still as possible until medical help can arrive. If light-headedness occurs, try to position the head lower than the chest or if possible, raise the legs.
For sprains and strains, the injury is less serious than a break, but care should still be taken to ensure further damage isn’t caused. Remember, if you are in any doubt as to the extent of the injury, call for medical assistance. An x-ray can then determine if it’s a break or sprain.
Not all sprains require medical help, so if there is movement and pain is limited, you can utilise RICE to prevent further damage and begin healing the injury. This involves rest, icing, compression and elevation of the injured area.
The rest phase of this should be at least 24 hours, whilst ice should only be applied in 10-15 minute spells, with a cloth preventing direct contact with skin. The compression should take place for up to two days with a bandage and elevation involves the injured area being lifted above heart level.
Your Home First Aid Kit
Throughout the year it’s also important to keep a first aid kit in the home that’s easily accessible and has all you need to tackle minor injuries. Remember, this should be kept in a cool place and away from younger children. It’s also advised to have a smaller version in the car for when you’re out and about too.
There’s plenty to consider putting in your first aid kit too, including the following:
A range of plasters in different sizes
Sterilising wipes and dressings
Bandages and safety pins
Disposable, sterile gloves
A pair of scissors and tweezers
Bug spray and bite cream
Mild painkillers such as aspirin and paracetamol
Cough syrup, allergy tablets and cold/flu medication.