Photo via Pixaby
With spring here and summer right around the corner, your kids are likely excited to get outdoors and enjoy the next few months of freedom. And you should absolutely be excited as well, as children who play outdoors are more likely to grow up caring about nature and the environment and less likely to have social problems with their peers. However, before you send your kids to enjoy the warm weather, here are the steps you should take to ensure they stay safe.
Make Your Backyard Safe
Your first step is to make sure that your own yard is safe for children to play in. One way to do this is to avoid using toxic chemicals in your backyard. According to Healthychildren.org, children are more vulnerable to negative health effects from being exposed to pesticides. Young children especially have a tendency to touch everything and then put their hands in their mouth, so it is wise to avoid putting toxic chemicals where they could easily come into contact with them. There are plenty of natural pesticide alternatives that can be made with regular household products which won’t pose a risk to your kids if they end up ingesting some.
You also need to check any patio and walkway areas for damage. Chances are you have stayed away from these places during the winter, so you might not know of any new cracks and irregularities. Any paved areas might have developed a slippery layer of algae, so make sure everything is wiped clean before the kids start playing.
Restock Your First Aid Kit
While you definitely want your kids to enjoy the outdoors, it is true that they are more likely to have a fall or a scrape when they are running around outside. Prepare for this by making sure your first aid kit is in order and that it includes everything you need to fix up a small injury. Check any expiration dates on ointments and creams, and throw out anything out-of-date.
Check Your Sunscreen
While you’re at it, check the expiration date of your sunscreen. Most sunscreens last up to three years, so you might be okay to use one from last year, but throw it out if it is past its expiration date or has visibly changed consistency or color.
You should also make sure that you are applying enough sunscreen on your children. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, most people do not apply enough sunscreen, so their SPF protection is less than they think. You should apply about one ounce of sunscreen to uncovered areas, and re-apply regularly. This means a regular eight-ounce bottle shouldn’t last you too long.
Get All the Equipment
If your kids like to play organized sports during the spring and summer, make sure you have the available safety kits. This includes knee pads, elbow pads, helmets for activities like cycling and rollerblading, and proper footwear for playing outdoors.
Prepare Them for Independent Play
If your children are getting older, you might consider letting them play without supervision. This could be in your yard, in the neighborhood, or even in a nearby park or woods. Outdoor, unstructured play is extremely important to a child’s development, but it can be nerve-wracking for parents.
The best thing you can do is educate your kids on the importance of things like adequate sun protection, hydration, and general safety. Make sure they are going out with a friend or sibling and that they have a plan for fetching an adult if something goes wrong.
Finally, don’t worry too much. Despite our tendency to think of the outside world as full of hazards, the truth is that spending time outdoors is more beneficial to your children than it is dangerous to them. By taking a few precautionary steps now, you can encourage your kids to go out, enjoy nature, and make the best out of the summer sun, safe in the knowledge that nothing major is likely to happen to them.