If you’re like most young people, then you can’t wait to be out and about once summer starts!
Fun in and around the pool, going places with your family or friends, pedaling or skateboarding around your neighborhood, sports, summer camps—there’s just a ton of things to do.
And being young and having fun sometimes means crashing, falling or taking a tumble. While those things are part of being a kid, you and your folks also need to know some simple steps to staying safe to avoid serious injuries. Some of these summer safety tips can even save your life or that of someone close to you!
Much of this information comes from Safe Kids Arizona, led by the Arizona Department of Health. The safety stuff about our summer monsoons comes from the National Weather Service here. So read it, learn it, and keep it in mind!
When temps crack triple digits here in Arizona, few things are as cool as a dip in the pool!
So keep things cool if you’re going to be around water by PREVENTING drownings. Sadly, when it comes to preventable injuries, drowning is the #1 cause of death for young children (ages 1–4) with most of those tragedies happening in swimming pools. Surprisingly, kids 5 years and up are more likely to drown in natural water like rivers, ponds or lakes. Never climb over or slide under a fence.
1. Kids who are in or around the pool need watching by an undistracted adult. Young children should always be within arm’s reach of an adult. Older kids should swim with a partner.
2. If you don’t know how to swim, take swim lessons this summer!
3. Kids should develop these five water survival skills:
• step or jump into water that’s over their heads and return to the surface;
• float or tread water for one minute;
• turn in a full circle and find an exit;
• swim 25 yards to exit the water;
• In a pool, be able to exit without using a ladder
4. Know that swimming in open water has special challenges—uneven surfaces, currents, ocean UNDERTOW, etc.
5. Parents should know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills is a very good idea.
More Safe Kids tips: Swimming Safety Tips
Riding a bike can be a great thing to do, giving you fun, freedom and exercise without any pollution, AND it’s a great family activity, too!
Helmets are a must. A properly fitted helmet reduces your risk of head injury by at least 45 percent. Sadly, less than half of kids 14 and under wear a bike helmet.
1. Wearing a properly fitted helmet is the best way to prevent head injuries and death!
2. Ride on the sidewalk when you can. If not, ride in the same direction as traffic as far to the right as you can.
3. Use hand signals and obey the rules of the road. Be PREDICTABLE by riding in a straight line, signaling when turning and not darting in and out of traffic.
4. Wear bright colors. Use lights, especially when riding at night and in the morning. Reflectors help, too.
5. Your parent should ride with you until he or she is comfortable for you to ride on your own!
Skaters and skateboarders also should wear a helmet. Did you know that 80,000 people, mostly young skateboarders, are taken to emergency rooms for their injuries?
1. Wear a helmet, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads.
2. A mouthguard helps protect your teeth.
3. Ride on smooth, dry surfaces away from traffic—avoid cars!
4. Learn how to check your skates or board before each outing.
In a Car!
Cars and car seats are designed to keep you as safe as possible. But parents must make sure that car seats and booster seats are put in properly! Amazingly, almost three-quarters of car seats are not used or installed right! When used correctly, child safety seats can cut the risk of death in an accident by up to 71 percent!
1. If possible babies until they are at least 2 years old should be in a rear-facing car seat installed in the back seat. A label on the car seat will give a max height and weight of the child for that seat. It should also have an expiration date.
2. When moved to a forward-facing car seat at around age 2, the car seat should still be installed properly in the back seat.
3. There’s an easy checklist to double-check its installation: www.safekids.org/checklist/car-seat-checklist-parents-pdf. If you have questions or problems have a certified child passenger technician check your installation. Safe Kids hosts free car seat inspection events with certified technicians.
4. Parents should always wear their seat belts as a good example for their kids. Parents need to make sure everyone in the car is buckled up.
5. A child should never be left alone in a car, not even for a minute, especially around Arizona where it’s so unbearably hot.
When to switch to a booster seat—a yes to any of these forward-facing car seat questions means it’s time to switch.
• Does your child exceed the car seat’s height or weight limits?
• Are your child’s shoulders above the car seat’s top harness slots?
• Are the tops of your child’s ears above the top of the car seat?
When it comes to storms, summer is our big season here in Arizona. Officially the National Weather Service marks the start of our monsoon season as June 15 and has it ending on
“The moisture moves up from the south—out of Mexico, and there’s moisture contributions from the Gulf of Mexico to the east, and also the Gulf of California. So the southern areas like down near Douglas and Nogales and Sierra Vista—they tend to see it start a little earlier. Up in Phoenix it’s a little later, so usually the first or second week of July they (the monsoons) really start to pick it up,” explains Carl Cerniglia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS). These monsoon rains often account for more than half of our annual rainfall.
The last weeks of June are often our hottest with triple-digit temps.
“We actually really need the heat of June in order to bring that moisture up to our area,” Cerniglia says. “And once that’s here, most of the time the thunderstorms during monsoon season are generated by the afternoon heating.” Often, the tall storm clouds form over the mountains before moving off later in the day to dump their rain in lower lying areas.
These powerful storms can cause dangerous flash flooding and also pack lots of lightning and damaging winds. These winds also can create huge dust storms called haboobs. As early as possible, NWS puts out advisories and the much more urgent severe storm warnings through TV and radio, online and with iNWS texts to help people stay safe.
“Water can rise very quickly,” Cerniglia points out. So during monsoon season, if you’re out and about, be aware of the weather forecasts and where you are. “You generally don’t want to be in the washes or anywhere near the river bottoms. Even water flowing a foot deep will take you off your feet…possibly hitting whatever things might be in the channel! There’s a lot of debris—tree limbs, trash and rocks in that flow—you’ll be battered by that. One of the major killers of people is actually drivers trying to cross flooded areas in their vehicles,” Cerniglia continues. Drivers can’t tell how deep the water is so they should never
drive around flood barricades or try and cross flowing water—
“turn around don’t drown,” he says.
For more about thunderstorm safety, including staying safe from lightning, visit www.nws.noaa.gov/os/thunderstorm/ and for what drivers should do in a dust storm: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/airquality/dust_storm.shtml