Tips for a safe summer
Summer is here which means more time for children and families to spend playing outdoors. While it's important to be prepared for any dangers that children might face during the summer, it's also important to let them run around and have fun. As a parent of a baby and also the owner of a health and safety training company, I recognise the importance of identifying hazards and possessing basic life saving skills should I ever need them. Here are a few tips to help both you and your children stay safe over the summer.
Your child should wear a sun hat, ideally with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck from the sun. Apply high factor sunscreen of total sun protection factor (SPF) 50 plus, reapplying regularly. Keep babies out of the sun as much as possible and attach a parasol or sunshade to the pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight.
If you are visiting friends or relatives, their garden or home might not be as child-friendly as your own. Children love to explore new surroundings so make sure they don't go far on their own. Check the garden (if there is one) for potential hazards such as tools, ponds or water butts; just a few inches of water can be enough to drown a child and it can happen quickly.
Make sure plenty of fluids are available so that you and your child don't get dehydrated. If they’re over six months old and they get bored with water, you may need to be creative to keep them hydrated; try giving your child a combination of very dilute fruit juices or home made fruit juice lollies throughout the day. For older toddlers and children, plenty of fruit and salad will also help to keep their fluid levels up.
Barbecues are always great fun but make sure the barbecue is in good condition and only use approved barbecue lighting fuels. If children are around, watch that they don't get too close to hot surfaces. You should also keep a bucket of water or hose nearby in case of emergencies.
Burns and scalds are not the only dangers at a barbeque; the number of cases of food poisoning also peaks in the summer as the warmer weather encourages germs to grow at a faster rate. There are a number of strategies you can implement when cooking outdoors to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Wait until the charcoal is glowing red with a powdery grey surface before starting to cook. Ensure frozen food is fully thawed before cooking it and, if you are cooking chicken on the bone or thick pieces of meat, give it an initial cook in the oven and simply finish it off on the BBQ. Regularly turn the food and move it around the BBQ cooking surface to guarantee it is cooked evenly. Finally, check that the food is piping hot all the way through, make sure there isn't any pink meat left in poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs and check that any juices run clear.