7 Little-Known Summer Dangers for Kids

Important safety tips to guard kids against summer dangers

While summer is a great time for families to have fun outdoors and improve their physical fitness as they engage in recreational activities, it's also the time when parents need to be extra-vigilant about safety hazards for kids. "We see more trauma in the summer," said Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and injury researcher at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, R.I. "There are more incidents of broken bones, kids falling and more cuts."

Most parents know the common tips to keep their kids safe outdoors, such as that kids should wear helmets when they're on bikes, roller skates or scooters. The public also generally knows that they must take strict measures to guard children against drowning. But many caretakers don't know less discussed hazards, such as preventing children from getting burns caused by fire pits and barbecue grills, the injuries and deaths that arise from lawnmower accidents, and the dangers of texting while walking.

1
Barbecues and Fire Pits

summer safety for kids - family with fire pit
Fire pits and popular and fun but it's important to know these and other summer safety tips for kids. Hello Lovely/Getty Images

Portable and stationery fire pits are very popular these days, and many families enjoy using them in the summer. Whether you use a gas grill or charcoal grill, make sure kids are not running around near the grill where they can run into the grill or knock it over.

As for fire pits, do not let kids play near them and position them away from where children are playing. Drill the message into your child that she should never, ever run near the fire or be close enough that she could be burned in case she falls.

Any fire requires a high level of supervision, said Dr. Lisa Asta, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and a general pediatrician in Walnut Creek, Calif. "Kids are naturally drawn to fire because of its warmth and beauty. Do not allow kids to get within an arm's length of the fire—the circle of safety."

2
Sand Holes at the Beach

Kids love digging in the sand, and one of the things they love to do is to bury each other up to the chest or neck. But studies have shown that this common activity is actually very dangerous—a hole can collapse and a child can get buried, and once that happens, it can be very difficult to get them out.

"Kids can die from suffocation or pressure on the chest from the sand, which can prevent breathing," said Dr. Zonfrillo.

So, if kids want to dig, make sure the holes are never deep.

3
Texting While Walking

Summer brings an increase in pedestrian accidents, said Dr. Zonfrillo. In many cases, texting—either on the part of the driver, the pedestrian, or both—may be a factor. Be sure to emphasize to your children the importance of never, ever being distracted and looking at the screen of their cell phones while walking.

Since kids always follow their parents' examples, be sure that you also refrain from texting or looking at your cell phone while driving or walking.

4
Hot Cars

Your child nods off a few minutes after you get them in the car, but you need to run in to the dry cleaners or drug store for a quick errand. It's tempting not to wake him.

You may wonder, "What's the harm in running in quickly?" But doctors say leaving your child unsupervised is never a good idea, be it summer or any other season. According to Dr. Zonfrillo:

  1. It may make you comfortable with the idea of leaving your child in the car for quick errands.
  2. You never know what's going happen during your errand-running. You may be delayed or have an accident, which would then leave your child in the car alone.
  3. It doesn't take too long for a car to heat up to the point that it's dangerous for a living being.

The bottom line: Do not ever leave your child in the car. Wake him up and take him in with you.

5
Dry Drowning

While dry drowning, or secondary drowning, is very rare, it is something parents must watch for if a child experiences a near-drowning or even whenever a child accidentally inhales water. Dry drowning can occur as much as 24 hours after a water-inhalation incident, when the lungs have a massive inflammatory reaction to the water that was breathed in.

If you suspect that your child may have inhaled water, watch for any unusual signs such as trouble breathing or shortness of breath even hours after the incident. Since drowning is a much more common danger, though, be sure to learn about safety tips to prevent drowning in water. 

6
Lawnmowers

This common gardening tool must be used with vigilant care. It is responsible for many serious injuries such as amputations and even death. And lawnmowers and kids is a particularly dangerous combination.

"Lawnmowers are loud and kids move quickly and in unpredictable ways," said Dr. Zonfrillo. "Always know where your kids are; make sure they are far away from where you will be working."

The AAP offers the following tips:

  • Never allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.
  • Do not have kids younger than 16 use ride-on mowers and do not have kids younger than 12 use walk-behind mowers.
  • To prevent eye injuries from flying stones or toys that may make contact with the mower, have anyone using a mower wear eye protection and pick up objects from the lawn before mowing.

7
Cuts on Feet

Doctors often see cuts on feet from shells, glass, debris and even rocks on the beach in the summer. Be sure to have your child wear water shoes to protect the bottoms and tops of their feet.

Year-Round Safety Tip

Although summer poses particular dangers, parents should be vigilant all year. "Think two steps ahead," said Dr. Asta. "Consider what could happen within five minutes if you are distracted."

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