by: Nisi Bennett
1. Learn CPR/First Aid. One in four kids under the age 14 will sustain an injury that will require medical attention. It typically takes about 5 minutes before EMS to arrive. What are parents going to do in those 5 minutes? What about the houses your kids spend time at in the summer, anyone there trained? You dint have to have a medical background to learn CPR, the life you save just might be your loved one.
2. Hydration is also a very big deal. Often kids are already dehydrated by the time they ask for water. The body uses even more water when it’s warm or there is an increase in activity. Make sure kids have plenty of water before going outside, and they are constantly drinking throughout the day. Decrease sugar filled drinks too. REMEMBER if kids ask for water, they are most likely already dehydrated!
3. Sun Protection is always important. I suggest having the everyday lotion contains some form of sunscreen. It’s best to get a hypoallergenic version, because that will decrease the chances of any skin irritation. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to being in the sun. Every shade of skin deserves protection. Sprays are great for reapplying during the day, but a good thick lotion should be applied initially. Just remember that there are different types of sunscreen for different types of skin. Your lips will burn faster than your forehead. Hats are great if you plan on being in the sun for an extended amount of time, please cover your ears. Sun burn is actually a 1st degree burn and should be treated as such. If there is any blistering, that is an open invitation to getting an infection. I recommend all children with sunburn see a provider, to get appropriate treatment and to rule out the possibility of sun poisoning.
4. Know your summer camp. Many camp leaders are full of high school students, or the summer camp is their first job. That doesn’t mean that all teen councilors are bad, it just means you have to know what training they have. Summer orientation can range anywhere from 2 hours to 2 full days. It’s also important to know what the summer camp emergency plan is. Do they shelter in place, do they evacuate, and if so, where? Does the summer camp visit community pools or go on local field trips, and what is the ratio of teacher to camper? Knowing this information is your right as a parent. Don’t feel intimidated.
5. Traffic in the Washington DC metro area is forever interesting. With so many expected travelers on I95, it’s a great idea to learn different routes. We all know how easy it is for a commute to go from 1 hour to 3 hours. Update your GPS for the most up to date route information. Look up real time traffic prior to heading on the roads. Have a backup plan for “staycations” too. Time your visits so that you miss the rush hour traffic. I like to leave super early in the morning. This allows time for any bumps in the road. Carry extra frozen water in a cooler along with some snacks that won’t melt. Cars stuck in traffic can over heat and if running the air conditioning, you are inhaling fumes from other vehicles. Don’t forget to carry an extra charger and safety kit (first aid & jumper cables & flares). Label ALL car seats with contact information in case there is an accident and the parents are not able to give any information.
6. Big crowds are easy ways for children to get lost. Make sure you’re aware of safety features during your large crowd enjoyment. Know where the information desk is, where the Red Cross Tent is, are there emergency phones, where are the exits; these are all questions you should be able to answer upon arrival. Knowing where to go for help if your child is lost will reduce time in locating any missing child. Keeping track of where you are will also reduce the time it takes for EMS to find you in the even t of an emergency. If the child is old enough, discuss where they go and who they should talk to if they get lost. A big crowd in a familiar location can get the best of us turned around.
7. Unfamiliar destinations are difficult for any family. It’s always a little bit of research needed with every new visit. Just knowing where the bathrooms are and if there are changing tables can be a challenge. Imagine being a child in an unfamiliar place. Many kids can describe the neighborhood that they live in and parks or stores. Teach children their full name, parents’ full name and street name. Keep a current photo ID of kids with you at all times. I have my kids pose for a picture before we start an adventure, so that I have an accurate description of them, clothes and all. I also label shoes and shirts with my cell number.
8. Water safety is a huge safety risk for any parent. I think swim lessons are a great way to create confident kids in the water. Make sure wherever they learned to swim; they also learned proper water safety etiquette. Parents should never rely on life guards to babysit their children at the pool. If you are not able to watch them directly, visit the pool when they can have your full attention. Many of the water games are created around children doing the same thing they would do if there is a water emergency, like floating or screaming. You know your child better than anyone else and in water safety second matter.
9. Weather forecasts are almost always off just a little bit, but they are almost always right when it comes to advisories. Download an app to your Smartphone, so you can keep track of all the changes that go along with summer weather. Try to keep phones charged, because summer thunderstorms can end in power loss too. Pay close attention to air quality. If you or your child has any health condition or respiratory sensitivity, this can be more harmful than to most.
10. Keep in touch. Often we travel to new places and inform our friends and family that we are leaving, but we never let them know we arrived. If you plan on being gone for a few days, let your emergency contacts know where you are staying and your itinerary. This can be done in a simple text or 30 second phone call. If there is any type of event where you’re traveling to or where your home is, someone knows your ok.
ENJOY EVERY MINUTE. Being prepared is not designed to make you more paranoid, or afraid of living, being prepared is a gentle reminder of how precious life really is.
Written by: Nisi Bennett, mom of five, nurse and founder of All Heart CPR Training.