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I'm working on an article about summer safety to be published in our newsletter here at Health Canada, and I thought I'd also post it here, since it has some pretty important information on keeping safe during the summer months!

Now that summer is here, we can enjoy all it has to offer... from outdoor BBQ’s to lounging around the pool and enjoying the sun and heat... however, we can never be too careful! Here are some tips to help you have fun in the sun while saving yourself or a family member a trip to the emergency room!

Sun safety

If you are a parent, you probably already know how important it is to put sunscreen on your children. However, you may not know that it is more effective if you apply the sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before venturing outside. And make sure to put on a wide-brimmed hat on your little one(s), as well! They’ll look cute, and they’ll be protected from the sun. After a couple of hours outside, and especially after swimming, make sure to re-apply the sunscreen. Have a big pitcher of water and ice nearby to keep the little ones well hydrated, too. And, outdoor fun in the summer can still be enjoyed in the shade, so find a big tree to sit under... and enjoy!

Pool safety

Now, here are some tips for pool safety... because summer means enjoying a dip in the water, too, but it’s of the utmost importance to keep children safe around the pool.

- Make suer to install a fence at least four feet high around the pool. Make sure the fence has no openings big enough that a young child could get through or under.

- Make sure pool gates self-close or self-latch at a height children can’t reach.

- Never, ever leave a children alone in or near the pool - even for a moment! Forget the phone that is ringing inside, or the doorbell... unless you bring your child with you, it is just not that important. “I was only gone for a second...” is something you really don’t want to be saying to the paramedics.

- Make sure to have rescue equipment near the pool, including a life preserver and even a portable phone for emergency phone calls.

- If your young children use ‘floaties’, remember - they are not considered approved life preservers.

- Even though many children take swimming lessons before the age of 4, they are not developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their 4th birthday. Swimming lessons for children under 4 years old should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.

- If your child is in or around the water, an adult should be within arm’s length, providing ‘touch supervision’.

- We'll all heard this a million times before but remember: Never run around the pool... walk instead!

- If the weather turns bad, exit the pool immediately.

- Make sure not to leave any toys lying around the edge of the pool, and children might reach out for the toys and accidentally fall in the pool.

Insect safety

Along with all the fun summer has to offer, there are still some things that bug us all... like bugs! Here are some tips on dealing with pesky insects:

- Don’t use scented products, like scented soap or hairspray, on children.

- Avoid areas where insects nest such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.

- Try to avoid dressing your children in bright clothing.

- To remove a visible stinger from skin, scrape it off with a credit card or your fingernail.

- Insect repellent products are a great way to keep the bugs away from you and your children, but make sure your child is of age (usually over 6 months old) before applying it on them. There are children’s versions of most insect repellent’s, like DEET and OFF, but it’s always best to check with your child’s doctor or a nurse beforehand.

Other tips:

- As fun as they look, don’t buy a home trampoline, and don’t let your children use home trampolines.

- Always supervise your children at the park and on play equipment to make sure they’re safe.

- Children should always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short the bike ride is and no matter how close to home they are. Many accidents happen in driveways or sidewalks close to home - not just streets! And whenever you’re going for a bike ride, put on a helmet, too. Children learn by example... so be responsible!

- If your child rides scooters or skateboards, they should wear helmets as well as other protective gear.

- Children under 12 should not use lawn mowers, and children under 16 years old should not be allowed to use ride-on lawn motors.
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