Summer means sleeping in, spending time together, and slowing down. For many families, it means taking in nature, getting more sun, and having fun on the water and in the pool. Summer vacations and activities are a lot more enjoyable when the family is safe. Taking the necessary precautions by following our health and safety tips is one way to make sure your family has the best summer possible.
1. Make a safe campfire
Whether you are camping with your family or making s’mores in your backyard, you need to be sure that your campfire is as safe as possible for your whole family. First, be sure that you set up your campfire in the best possible location. There should not be any branches, brush, or bushes within an eight to ten-foot radius of the fire ring. In fact, the ring should be clear of tents, chairs, and food. Clear debris from around the pit, and be sure there is a five-foot perimeter of soil around the campfire. Circle it with a metal ring or rocks to keep the fire inside the border of the ring. Keep flammable items far from the fire as well. It’s also important to have water nearby. Should the wind pick up or a spark fly out of the fire, you need to be prepared to put out the flames and control the fire as quickly as possible.
Most important, an adult should keep an eye on the fire and all children and pets at all times. If you are cooking on the fire, monitor the children and be sure they remain at a safe distance from the flames. Help them cook and be sure they do not lean into the fire or touch the hot utensils or food. Also be sure they do not run near the fire. Finally, be sure to extinguish the fire completely before you go to bed by throwing water or dirt on it.
2. Practice water safety at all times
Swimming and boating are often the highlights of family summer activities, and it is important to keep swimming and boating safety tips in mind before you go to the pool, beach, lake, river, etc. The most important water safety tip is to always supervise children around water. This means that an adult should be at the water’s edge keeping an eye on the child at all times. Do not trust an older child to watch a younger child.
If your children do not know how to swim or are inexperienced swimmers, they should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water. Do not feel a false sense of security simply because your children are wearing life jackets, though; they are not babysitters or lifeguards. You also need to remember that rafts and toys are not appropriate substitutes for life jackets.
3. Make bicycle safety a priority
Going for a family bike ride is a fun and healthy way to spend time together during the summer. Keeping all family members safe while riding together is a must for a happy, healthy summer. Teach your children that bikes are vehicles, rather than toys, so that they treat them with the proper respect. Invest in helmets that properly fit each member of your family. Protecting your loved ones’ heads and brains is just as important when on a bicycle as it is when on a motorcycle or ATV.
Also, ensure that your family’s bicycles fit them properly. When standing over the bike, you should see one to two inches between you and the top bar if it is a road bike or three to four inches if it is a mountain bike. Your seat should be level from the front to the back, and the seat height should allow for a slight bend at your knee when you fully extend your leg. The handlebars also should be level with your seat.
When riding, be as visible as possible. Wear neon, fluorescent, or bright colors and something that reflects light. Another option is to put flashing lights on yourself and your bike. To ensure complete safety for your family, avoid riding at night.
4. Maintain a routine
One of the more difficult parts of summer is getting the family back into a routine to prepare for the upcoming school year. Attempting to maintain a routine throughout the summer is better for your family because it ensures that everyone is organized and has time to spend together and have fun. If you allow family members to deviate from the routine too much, your children may lose some of their healthy habits such as brushing their teeth, washing their hands after using the restroom, and getting exercise.
Keeping up with your kids’ bedtime routines especially is important during the summer because bedtime rituals help children feel safe and secure and build bonds between parents and children. Bedtime routines also help children sleep better because their bodies grow accustomed to sleep patterns and allow your children to get better rest. Routines also teach children time management and help them to stay on top of tasks and chores.
Summer often is more restful and relaxing when families take the necessary safety precautions to protect themselves and their health. Following our tips will help keep your family healthy and safe and allow you to fully enjoy your time together.
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.
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