Updated June 2018
Summertime means more opportunities for child care professionals to bring their students outdoors for meaningful and engaging playtime and lessons. Whether you want to have educational walks or just observe nature on the playground, you must be careful to keep students healthy and unharmed. Our course "Essentials of Outdoor Safety" is full of useful information to help keep children safe when playing outside. To have fun this summer, while keeping your students safe, here are a few dangers to watch out for and how to avoid any potential risks:
1. Watch 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, avoiding any cut or irritated skin, eyes, or hands. You must also have written permission from parents to apply any kind of insect repellant. For more information about best practices for protecting young children from insect bites, the CDC provides ample resources regarding mosquito and tick prevention.
2. Watch out for traffic
While field trips and outings can be extremely beneficial for young, imaginative minds, you need to be extremely careful and always follow appropriate transportation safety guidelines. Avoid loading and unloading children in congested areas or allowing children to cross streets unsupervised.
3. Watch out for sun
One of the best parts about summer is the warm sun. While your students may love playing out in its rays, they also need to be protected. Babies and children under four run the highest risk of heat-related illnesses, which 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, breathable clothing. Encouraging your students to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from UV rays is also recommended. Furthermore, ensuring that all your students are fully hydrated before you head outdoors will avoid dehydration and other heat-related problems. If at all possible, schedule any outdoor activity for the coolest times of the day (morning and evening) to prevent overexposure, or stay in shaded areas. Children should also wear sunscreen, but you must have written permission from parents before applying any type of sunblock.
4. Watch out for water
While recreational water activities are extremely popular with children of all ages, drowning is one of the leading causes of injury and death for children ages one to four. Always supervise any children near or in water.
These are just a few ways you can keep your students safe while playing outdoors this summer. At ProSolutions Training, we offer plenty of online child care courses for interested early childhood education professionals eager to learn more about their field. Contact us today hear more about our online CDA classes or social service courses.