Schools are almost out, and the warmer weather months are an ideal time to try new opportunities to improve your children’s health and wellness. Planning ahead helps to ensure that our children have a safe summer that offers physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Practice safety first! Each year approximately one in four kids under the age of 14 will sustain an injury that requires medical attention. Forty percent of all injury-related emergency room visits occur between May and August. Most accidents can be prevented if we educate ourselves and our kids on how to stay safe. Keep the following in mind:

  • Heat can be the biggest danger in the summer months. Look out for the warning signs of heat exhaustion, which include headache, nausea, dizziness, muscle spasms, and fatigue. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, get the person out of the sun and into a cool place. Offer fluids, preferably water. Urge the person to lie down and rest in the coolest place possible. Encourage them to shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water.
  • Heat stroke is an especially dangerous form of hyperthermia. It can be life threatening, so you need to get medical help right away. A person with heat stroke has a body temperature above 104° and symptoms such as confusion, combativeness, bizarre behavior, faintness, staggering, strong rapid pulse, dry flushed skin, lack of sweating, or coma. To avoid hyperthermia, don’t try to exercise or do a lot of strenuous activities in the midday heat. And make sure to drink plenty of liquids.
  • Swimming is great exercise for kids. Lessons are a good idea for beginners. Swimming pools should have safety fences and/or alarms. Children should never swim alone and should know to call 911 immediately when someone is in trouble. There should always be a phone nearby.
  • Enjoy other sports and recreation with proper clothing, shoes, and equipment.
  • Have a list of age-appropriate activities handy to keep your kids from getting bored. Accidents often occur when children start finding unique ways to fill ‘downtime.’ Exploration is important, but review indoor and outdoor safety rules with your children before they are adventure-bound.

In addition to keeping kids physically active and safe, you can help keep their minds engaged during the summer. On average, students lose almost three months worth of grade level equivalency in math during the summer months. Keep the following in mind:

  • Check out your local library. The librarian can suggest grade-level as well as recreational books that will keep your child interested.
  • Consider safe, parent-approved Internet sites. Some sites offer a ‘summer camp’ theme with a daily craft, brain teasers, video streaming of important world events, and plenty of fun graderelated math, reading, and science activities.
  • Local science centers, theaters, museums and zoos are great places to visit. Children absorb an amazing amount of knowledge when exposed to history and art.
  • Plan to do volunteer work together. Kids will feel good about helping others, build confidence and learn new skills.

This summer create new family traditions. Take pictures along-the-way and create a memory book of the summer as part of your transition to the next season.

Sources: National Institutes of Health, LifeWork Strategies EAP, The Reginald S. Lourie Center, and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers.