Stay Educated on Safety to have the Most Summer Fun
Summer is almost upon us, which means the school year will be over soon and children will have more time for bike rides, BBQs, the beach and swimming pools. The warm weather offers many opportunities to have fun with the people you care about, but it is also important to make safety a top priority. Whether you’re hiking in the woods, playing in the back yard, or getting ready to eat a burger or hot dog fresh off the grill, being proactive about your family’s safety will make the summer even better.
To help you get the most out of these longer days and nicer weather, here are a few friendly reminders to help avoid common safety hazards during summer activities.
Choose Your BBQ Menu Wisely
Cooking outdoors and hosting BBQs are fun and popular pastimes during the warmer months. However, it’s best to be mindful of the ingredients selected in your dishes, as someone attending your cookout could have a potentially dangerous food allergy.
Communicating with the host of the cookout about you or your child’s food allergy can help know which foods to avoid if they contain any allergens. FoodAllergy.org (FARE) offers these tips for people hosting outdoor BBQs:
- Provide labels and/or markers to guests to write their names on cups to prevent any mix-ups.
- Ask guests ahead of time how you can best accommodate their dietary needs, so that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable time.
- If allergens are present in any dishes, label those dishes to help people better identify them.
- Clean your grill thoroughly and provide foil wrap. This will help prevent cross-contamination.
- Store-bought BBQ sauce could potentially contain many allergens. Buy or make an allergen-free BBQ sauce.
- Be sure to wipe down tables, chairs, toys, and cooking surfaces to remove traces of food that a guest might be allergic to.
- If children are attending the cookout, educate them on sharing food before getting together.
It’s important to stay educated on food allergies that could affect you or your child’s health. For more detailed information on food allergies, FARE has provided a food allergy field guide.
Prevent Pool Problems
Did you know that common pool toys might actually be made with materials that could be harmful to you or your child? Research has shown that there is a link between odorous pool toys and toxic chemicals. These “odors” include rubbery, plastic-like, glue-like, or nail polish-like smells that come from the pool toys. SaferChemicals.Org recommends choosing phthalate-free, petrochemical-free, and polymer-free toys to best prevent exposing yourself to any harmful chemicals in toys.
For those who wish to cool off in the pool during the hot summer months, be sure to keep these swimming safety tips from Red Cross in mind:
- Keep children under active supervision at all times, and stay within an arm’s reach of younger kids.
- Never allow anyone to swim by themselves.
- Regularly test and adjust chemical levels to be in appropriate balance for swimming.
- Establish rules, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” and “swim with a buddy.”
If your child is swimming in your or another person’s pool, knowing where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing will better enable you to respond in emergency situations. Be sure to educate your child on swimming safely to reduce the potential risk of drowning. Provide them with floatation devices if they cannot swim on their own. If you cannot supervise yourself, make sure that your children are swimming under the watch of a responsible adult that you can trust.
Keep the Inside Air Clean
Before turning on air conditioning units for the first time this season, be sure to check them for mold and dirt that could have built up during the winter. Dirty filters can also contribute to weaker airflow.
The Department of Energy recommends that, when cleaning an AC window unit, that you:
- Routinely replace or clean air filters.
- Check your units’ evaporator coils ever year and clean as necessary.
- Be sure to clean debris and leaves from fan, compressor, and condenser on split systems.
- Occasionally pass a stiff wire through unit’s drain channels to prevent clogging.
- Inspect window seals and repair as needed to prevent cool air from escaping.
- Hire a certified professional if your unit needs more than simple maintenance.
When cleaning air conditioning units, it is also important to take the proper safety precautions to prevent any mold or dirt from entering your body. This can be accomplished by wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, covering eyes with safety goggles, covering hands with rubber gloves, and allowing your filter to dry before re-inserting it into an electrified window unit. Creating a cleaning routine for your AC window units will help make the air in your home safer to breathe; especially for any family members who might have a respiratory condition.
Stay Safe to Get the Most Out of Summer
There’s plenty of summer fun to be had, and even more so when it’s safe! Remember to take a proactive approach to cleaning your home to prevent any allergens or air-born irritants from entering your living space. When spending time outdoors, it is important to also remember to ensure that you know about any food allergies ahead of time if you are eating with guests, where and whom your children are playing in pools with, and that they are properly protected from contact with disease-bearing insects such as ticks. If your child’s asthma is triggered or they experience a serious allergic reaction at any outdoor events you may be attending this summer, be sure to have their treatment on hand and ready to administer it should the need arise.
For more information on staying safe this summer, check out the Center for Disease Control’s tips on avoiding ticks and how to safely remove one if bitten. Contact your doctor if you are bitten and experience rash or fever in the following weeks. Untreated tick bites may result in contracting Lyme disease, as well as Powassan, which is currently a dangerous and prevalent tick-borne illness in northern New Jersey. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency also has some valuable info on avoiding contact with lead-contaminated soil that you can check out here.
To further discuss ways to help manage asthma in childcare settings, Erica Vasquez of the NJ American Lung Association will be joining the Partnership volunteers and staff members at the Northern Regional Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Coalition meeting on May 31. Call 973-372-4353 for more information on the Coalition.