How to Keep Your Kids Safe This Summer (Without Becoming a Helicopter Mom)
To some parents, summer is a time of celebration; others see hazards everywhere. (Sharks! Strangers! Chemical sunscreen!) But wherever you fall on the spectrum—from free-range to perennially paranoid—there are basic steps you can take to ensure your kids’ safety. Here’s to a season of chill.
What to Do If Kids Get Lost
Summer means trips to amusement parks, beaches and other crowded public spaces (hello, air-conditioned malls). It's never too early to coach kids on how to react if they get separated from you. When you arrive at any public place, point out a family meeting spot (the big fountain at the entrance, the snack bar, the umbrella station) and remind your kids where it is throughout the day. Tie easy-to-spot balloons to your beach chairs. Teach each child his full name and your cell number (singing it to the tune of "Jingle Bells" helps)—and write in marker inside his shoes or shirt. Teach kids to freeze the instant they lose sight of you (then retrace your steps). Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Select Kid-Safe Sunscreen
Mineral > Chemical. Nuf said.
Help kids identify strangers likeliest to help should they feel uneasy: uniformed security personnel, other moms with small children, police officers, lifeguards. Then teach them “No, Go and Tell”—the three basic responses to any adult who may try to lure them.
Swim Safety 101
Concerns about everything from jellyfish to dry drowning are enough to make you want to keep your kids landlocked. But rest assured these dangers are extremely rare. The Red Cross recommends all inexperienced swimmers wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets near water, and offers tips on what to do if you get caught in a riptide.
How to Spot a Concussion
More playtime outdoors means more potential for injury: According to the CDC, ER doctors treat 200,000 kids under the age of 14 for playground injuries annually. Remain vigilant in the days following any bump on the head, no matter how minor. And if you spot any of these signs and symptoms, see your pediatrician pronto.