Summer is a time to get outdoors and, for many families, visit new destinations and enjoy fun family activities together. Although its something we hope will never happen, its important to consider summer safety tips and teach our children about getting lost and using caution around strangers.
Child Safety: Tips for Keeping Kids Safe
Here are a few tips for teaching children to be safe during the summer.
Whether youre going on a trip to the beach with kids, an amusement park, or off to the great outdoors, teach children what to do if they get lost.
- If you go camping, hiking, or walking through trails in the woods, give your children a whistle on a string to hang around their necks for safety.
- If they become lost, teach them to "hug a tree" and start whistling. Sound carries a long way, and this can help you locate them.
- The National Safety Council’s safety tips include parents carrying photos of their children, selecting a meeting place ahead of time in case someone gets lost, and instructing children to go to a park employee if they are in trouble.
- Some parents tell their young children that if they are lost they should try to find other families with young children to help them.
Teach your children about stranger safety and review with them periodically. For example, children should not talk to unfamiliar adults when they are alone at a park, mall, or other public place. To keep your kids safe from strangers, teach your children to yell or go to a safe spot such as a friends house or a nearby store if they feel they're in danger.
Parents should also caution their children never to approach a car, especially when someone they don't know is inside, regardless of what the person is saying to them. Predators have been known to use a number of tricks to try to entice children to go with them, including asking children to help them find a lost puppy and asking for directions. Since children tend to be helpful and seek adult approval, it is easy for them to forget the rules and respond to the request. The buddy system is another summer safety tip that can help in situations when an adult is not present.
Not all agree with the advice about teaching children to fear strangers. Although the incidence of stranger harm is real it can also be highly exaggerated and sensationalized by the media. What is critical is that children learn not to engage with strangers and particularly not to respond to behavior that lures them away with strangers. And to scream for help when they feel uneasy about the situation. Parents can protect kids by helping their children learn to recognize potentially unsafe situations when they are outdoors.
Leaving Child Home Alone
There is no hard rule about what age a child may stay at home without adult supervision. Some parents feel that no child under age 12 should be left alone (and some states have legislation establishing the legal age). Others feel that their 8 or 9 year old may be mature enough for an hour or two alone under particular circumstances.
Before leaving your child home alone, consider the child's age, the children's maturity level and personality, how long you will be gone, how far away you are going, and whether there is someone available to check on your child periodically.
To protect your kids when you do decide to leave your child at home, consider the following safety tips:
- Spend time explaining your expectations for any time that your child is unsupervised.
- Establish a regular schedule of check-in calls in which your child calls you to let you know how and what he/she is doing.
- For older children, establish rules about friends coming over to visit. Do you approve of your child having friends over at the house without any supervision
- Create a first aid kit and teach your child how to use it.
- Establish a list of emergency phone contacts and keep it by the phone or program it in a cell phone.
- Store alcohol and medication in a location that is completely inaccessible.
Whether your family is a roller coaster crew or cross-country campers, keep this and other summer safety tips in mind and have fun. It'll be September before you know it.
More on Summer Safety
- Do you enjoy taking trips to the beach in the summer? Check out our tips for safe beach trips with kids.
- Rather than throw in the towel on fun this summer, use these water safety tips for kids when engaging in water exploration, swimming, or simply playing near water.
- Even working parents can enjoy a carefree summertime with the entire family. Find fun and easy ideas for summer activities for kids.
- Our community parents share their favorite kid-friendly bug spray and best sunscreen for kids.
- Do you ever regret your decision to be a working parent, especially in summer? Here are some pros and cons to being a working parent in summer.
- Summer camp can be an exciting place to make memories and lifelong friendships. Find out why our blogger loves summer day camps as much as her kids do!