Tips for keeping children safe in the ‘deadliest days of summer’

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By Sherri Hannan
University of Kentucky

The season from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day is known as the “100 deadliest days of summer.” The summer months, while a highlight for kids, can also expose them to greater injury risk. Kids spend time in the water, walking or riding bikes in their neighborhood and just enjoying their summer break from school. All that can change quickly without the use of safety devices or following safe practices.

Here are some tips and trips to keep kids safe while they have fun in the sun.


  • Apply sunscreen when kids will be outdoors, even on cloudy day. Reapply every two hours and after your child has been swimming.
  • Kids are at a higher risk for dehydration. Combined with the summer heat, the lack of water can lead to muscle cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Have them drink water before, during and after physical activity.
  • Fireworks are a fun way to celebrate, but every year, more than 3,000 children under the age of 15 visit the emergency department because of fireworks. Give children glowsticks instead of sparklers, and always keep fireworks away from children. If possible, attend a public fireworks display instead, and leave the firepower to the professionals.
  • Keep a first aid kit handy, and give your children a few first aid basics such as when to use a bandage, what a tick might look like and how to spot poison ivy.

In the water or on a boat:

  • Actively supervise children in and around water, giving them your undivided attention.
  • Teach children to swim with an adult. Older, more experienced swimmers should still swim with a partner every time. From the first time your kids swim, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
  • Swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • A large portion of boating accidents each year involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers. To keep you and your loved ones safe, it is strongly recommended not to drink alcoholic beverages while boating.


  • Wear a properly fitted helmet. It is the best way to prevent head injuries and death. Learn how to properly fit a helmet for your children in seconds.
  • Ride on the sidewalk when you can. If not, ride in the same direction as traffic as far on the right-hand side as possible.
  • Use hand signals and follow the rules of the road. Be predictable by making sure you ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between cars.
  • Wear bright colors and use lights, especially when riding at night and in the morning. Reflectors on your clothes and bike will help you be seen.
  • Ride with your children. Stick together until you are comfortable that your kids are ready to ride on their own.
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