Summertime means more opportunities for child care professionals to bring their students outdoors. It gives the opportunity for meaningful and engaging playtime and lessons.
Do you want to have educational walks with your class? Or splash around in the water to stay cool? Or engage in activities on the playground? It is important you make children's health and safety a priority. This can protect children from potential risks and hazards.
As a child care provider, it's important to know program-specific health and safety policies and procedures. Child care safety basics are also essential to bring awareness of health and safety. This assists in minimizing potential health risks and or injuries. For best practice, consider completing health and safety training for child care providers every year. It's good to review policies and procedures and be aware of updates. Or with possible changes to program/age-specific rules and requirements.
During the active summer months, you can never be too cautious. When it comes to protecting students, there are many safety tips and precautionary measures. These are essential to help keep your kids safe while enjoying the summer sun.
Remember: Supervision, training, and intentional planning are all key components for avoiding injuries and allow for more fun in the sun!
Below are 5 summer safety tips to help keep your students safe this season.
1. Playground safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 200,000 children younger than 14 are treated in emergency rooms for playground-related injuries each year. Falls are a common cause of these injuries.
As a rule of thumb, make sure any playground equipment your child is using is safe and well maintained. This can help to avoid breakage and fall risks. Look for sharp edges, tripping hazards, or other signs that it is in poor condition as well. Test hot surfaces on slides or swings on sweltering summer days before they begin to play. This can help prevent burns.
Helpful Tool! Conduct a brief playground walkthrough. while using a child care health and safety daily checklist. It is a helpful strategy to minimize injuries and increase health and safety awareness. For older age groups, involve children to assist with scanning the playground. Look for unsafe spaces or areas such as toys/playground equipment out of place. Or hazards such as fallen tree branches. This is a fantastic way to teach children about playground safety. While also introducing responsibility and teamwork.
2. Watch out for water. When the weather warms up, one activity children enjoy doing is playing in the water to remain cool. Whether it is running through sprinklers or taking a field trip to a community pool. Summer and water fun go hand in hand for kids. Yet, while these activities can provide a fantastic way to cool down on a hot day. Playing around or with water can also pose a risk to the kids you care for.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two children aged 14 or younger die from accidental drowning
every day. Remember to always supervise any children near or in water by:
Provide constant supervision. When a child is in the water, he or she must be constantly supervised. Irreversible brain damage can occur within as few as four to six minutes of being underwater, according to Parents magazine. And that is when the child can be revived. Active supervision is critical because drowning incidents usually do not involve splashing and yelling.
Create an emergency plan. Supervising your students can go a long way. But you should still prepare for accidents by developing an emergency plan. Communicate the plan to all staff team members. For example, it might include steps such as alerting a co-worker for help while you grab the child. And having someone call for emergency aid and administering CPR.
Helpful Tip! When you are supervising children playing in the water, keep a mobile phone with you at all times. This is in case you need to call 9-1-1 and have emergency contact information on hand for each child. You and all your co-workers should additionally become certified in CPR.
Consider all sources. Pools are not the only water source that presents a drowning risk. According to Nermours Children's Hospital, children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water. That means that you should keep an eye out for puddles, buckets, and even toilets where a child might fall in and be unable to get out. If you are using a small plastic or inflatable pool, be sure to drain it as soon as you finish playing.
3. Protect your students from heat-related dangers. There are three main types of heat-related conditions: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. While all are troublesome, heat cramps tend to be the least serious of the three. Though if left untreated, it will grow in severity to heat exhaustion and then a heatstroke.
Children and babies under the age of four are the most at risk for developing heat exhaustion. A heatstroke, most medical experts say, is life-threatening.
How can I help prevent heat-related illnesses? The best ways to prevent heat-related illnesses are to pay attention to the weather. And to your students' exposure to the sun. Avoid bringing your students out into an unshaded play area. Especially if the temperatures are upwards of 78 degrees or more. Furthermore, limit their time outdoors and encourage them to drink plenty of fluids.
4. Be aware of excessive sunlight exposure. While your students may love playing out in its rays, they also need to be protected. Infant and children under four-years-old run the highest risk of heat-related illnesses. This is why keeping them safe from harmful ultraviolet rays when they are playing outdoors is extremely important. When going outside, young children should wear loose, light-colored, hats and breathable clothing.
Encourage your students to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from UV rays. Also always wear sunscreen.
5. Keep an eye out for insects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that ticks can cause illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. While mosquitos have been known to carry West Nile virus and the Zika virus in parts of the world. To keep your students from suffering insect bites while outdoors, encourage them to wear protective clothing. Stay away from overgrown areas of a field, yard, or trail, and wear insect repellant.
CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on children under 3. Other than this stipulation, educators should use insect repellant as directed. Avoid any cut or irritated skin, eyes, or hands.
**Important Reminder! Please be sure to follow your specific state and center guidelines on applying sunscreen and insect repellant. Most states require written parent permission.
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