Spring Break Safety Tips

Camping Many schools are out for Spring Break in the next few weeks and families are packing their bags for the beach, the campground, the theme park or even a low-key “stay-cation,” at home. The following safety recommendations should be considered to ensure an accident-free week.

Traveling to Your Location
When driving long distances, plan for frequent breaks, stops and activities kids can play in their seats while buckled up. Before getting on the road, make sure children are buckled up properly and young children are securely fastened in an appropriate child safety seat. It’s also important to remember that children younger than 13 years of age should always be seated in the backseat of the car. Parents should also keep the car at a moderately cool temperature and never leave children alone in a car.

Protecting Your Skin
Many Spring Break-bound families are headed for fun in the sun. But even on a cloudy day, the sun can have damaging effects on skin. The sun produces two types of ultraviolet radiation — UVA, which causes sunburn, and UVB, which has a lasting impact on the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. Applying a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher can help protect against the harmful UVB rays. Remember to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure and reapply immediately after swimming, sweating or drying off with a towel. Also, wear hats and sunglasses for extra protection and take frequent breaks indoors.

A good rule of thumb in hot climates is to provide a water bottle for every member of the family. When active, children should drink 5 ounces to 9 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Severe dehydration can be a life-threatening condition, especially in children. Symptoms include cramping, faintness or dizziness, nausea, emotional instability and high body temperature.

Water Sports and Drowning
Boating and personal water craft seem like great family activities, but without the proper certifications, equipment and, most importantly, adult supervision, these sports pose risks to children. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents. Children and youth should always wear lifejackets on the water — no matter their age or swimming ability. It’s also a good idea to do some prior research on state laws regarding the operation of water sport vehicles.

According to Safe Kids, on average more than 1,000 kids die every year from drowning. Drowning accounted for 70 percent of boating accident fatalities in 2011 and is the leading cause of injury-related death for children between ages 1 and 4. It’s critical for children who are going to be around water to learn how to swim. For older children, make sure everyone has a swimming buddy and that children are obeying the signage around pools and beaches. No safety measure can replace adult supervision.

beachStaying Together
It is important to have protocol in place to help everyone to stay connected when visiting a busy location. Before entering a theme park, mall or busy public beach, discuss an emergency separation plan with the family and designate a meeting place. Parents should make sure children know where to go and who to trust if they are separated in a crowd. Cellular devices readied with emergency numbers can also help keep families safe.

Staying at Home
“Stay-Cations” can be great for families to just relax in their own homes. Risks do exist when children are left alone. If children are old enough to stay at home alone during the work day, another adult should check on the children through out the day. Family passwords should be established so kids know if someone at the door or a caller can be trusted. Also a family emergency response plan is essential for children to understand.

Spring Break Camps
If getting away with the family is not an option and you don’t want to leave your children at home, there are many Spring Break Camps available through out the country. A good place to start is with your local YMCA or a basic internet search for your town.

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