Summer vacations can be a great way to unwind and spend quality time with your children and family. Depending on the destination, summer vacations can also be very enriching for children. That said, summer is prime-time for wild behavior, accidents, and other maladies—particularly in popular vacation spots or sites of interest. For both your family’s safety and your own sanity, it’s important to stay extra vigilant and prepare for your vacation ahead of time. After all, no one wants an accident or injury ruining their vacation!
Employ these summer vacation safety tips to ensure a good time is had by all:
-Practice sun safety. All around the world, the sun is blaring. The sun, while necessary to life, is also very damaging. Excessive unprotected exposure to the sun can result not only in sunburns and uneven complexions, but skin complications later in life such as wrinkles, sun spots, and even skin cancer.
When it comes to sun protection, one must always remain sharp. Sun protection techniques should be employed every day of the year, not just during the summer. Pack sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and apply liberally to all exposed skin--including and especially the face! The skin there is extra delicate and needs careful attention. Be sure to also equip your child with a wide-brimmed hat (no, hair is not sufficient cover from the sun), and sunglasses with UV protection. Also consider having them wear a long sleeved shirt during exceptionally sunny days. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the long sleeves will help protect against the sun and will actually keep your child cooler.
-Stay safe in crowds. It’s easy to lose your child in a crowd. You think you have an eye on them, then you turn away for a split second, and suddenly, they’re gone. Avoid unpleasant and potentially dangerous situations by going up with a plan for dealing with crowds. Agree on a mutually accessible meeting point that your family can gather at if you get separated. You can also employ brightly colored shirts or other stand-out items to make your family members more distinguishable from the crowd. It’s not a bad idea to provide your child with a cell phone or walkie-talkie in case of emergencies.
-Swim safely. One of the best ways to cool down during a hot summer is by taking a dip somewhere, whether it be a lake, pool, or the ocean. Never let children swim alone. Keep a constant eye on children under age 12, and try to keep to shallow water. Also know your limits—don’t attempt to swim too long or too far without having a firm handle on your swimming ability. When it comes to bodies of natural water, such as lakes, lagoons, etc., be sure to carefully read the signs around the area. Alligators are a real concern in places like Florida, while sharks, jellyfish, barracudas, or other unpleasant sea critters are things to watch out for while swimming in any ocean. Don’t swim or let your children swim somewhere dirty or polluted—all kinds of nasty bacteria may be in the water. Overall, if you aren’t sure whether or not a body of water is safe to swim in, seek out a local to ask. If there is no one to ask, veer on the side of caution and avoid swimming completely.
-Avoid dehydration. As the saying goes, if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Dehydration is a sneaky beast, and you may not notice you are becoming dehydrated, especially if you are engaged in another activity or paying attention to something else. However, it’s key to avoid dehydration in hot weather, otherwise you can induce headaches, nausea, sun fever, and other avoidable consequences. Pack reusable water bottles for every member of your family, and make sure everybody drinks them and refills several times throughout the day.
-Watch out for poisonous plants and stinging bugs. If you’re vacationing in the U.S., look out for poison ivy, oak and sumac, which are widespread throughout the nation. Educate yourself on where they are typically found, how to identify them, how to avoid contact with them, and exposure treatment options. Similarly, watch out for mosquitoes, horseflies, ticks, and other bugs. These bugs not only bite, but are carriers for a variety of dangerous diseases. Pack bug repellent and wear long sleeves and pants in bug-infested areas.