British Columbia

Hot weather, cool heads: tips to keep your kids safe for the summer

British Columbians are more than ready for summer. Here are some tips to help your family have a safe and enjoyable summer.

There are easy ways you can prepare your family for the best summer ever

Victoria Day marks the unofficial start of summer and there are easy ways you can make your season safer and more enjoyable. (Shutterstock)

The Victoria Day long weekend marks the beginning of summer — and while the warm weather and sunshine can be delightful, it's important to keep safety in mind.

Every summer in B.C. there are stories of young people falling victim to preventable injuries and even death.

These include drownings and near drownings (the leading cause of death among toddlers between one and four years old, according to B.C.'s Injury Research and Prevention Unit), injury from falling out of open windows or unsecured balconies, seasonal illness like heat stroke, sunburn or dehydration, or injury from recreational or sports activities.

There are easy way to prevent these injuries and take precautions to keep your children out of harm's way.

Keep safe on and in the water

Children should be closely supervised when they are near water. (The Associated Press)

According to the Canadian Red Cross, the majority of children who drown are often inadequately supervised. Shallow bodies of water — and even the bathtub — can put kids at risk.

  • Supervise children when they are near water. Keep them within arm's reach.
  • Make sure non-swimmers use a flotation device or lifejacket.
  • In open water or rivers, be wary of swimming in currents, as powerful currents can sweep people away.
  • When pools are not in use, keep them covered. Fence the area around your pool so that children cannot access it unsupervised.
  • When boating, children should always wear a lifejacket.

READ MORE: Boating safety: Tips for a safe summer on the water

Prevent window and balcony injuries

Children falling from balconies and windows make up a large number of traumatic injuries during the summer months, the B.C. Children's Hospital says. (eurobanks/Shutterstock)

The B.C. Children's Hospital has issued a warning to parents and caregivers to play close attention when they open windows and keep their balcony open.

According to the hospital, between 2009 and 2015, 146 children were treated at trauma centres around the province after falling from a window or balcony. 

They suggest the following safety tips:

  • Move furniture and household items away from windows to discourage children from climbing to peer out.
  • Be aware that window screens are not an adequate protection, as children can still fall out.
  • Install window guards on windows above the ground level.
  • Alternatively, fasten your windows so that they cannot open more than 10 centimetres. Children can fit through spaces as small as 12 centimetres wide.
  • In either case, ensure there is a safe release option for your windows in case of a house fire.
  • Don't leave children unattended on balconies or decks.

Sun safety

Children should cover up and use sunscreen because their skin is extra sensitive to the sun's ultraviolet rays. (Shutterstock)

Babies and young children are susceptible to sun damage from ultraviolet radiation because they have sensitive skin. Health Canada recommends the following tips for sun safety:

  • Cover up in light-coloured, lightweight, loose clothing and use water resistant sunscreen with a high SPF that's reapplied often
  • Limit children's time in the sun, especially between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Drink plenty of water. Stay cool with cool showers or baths.
  • Do not leave a child in a hot car even briefly as temperatures can rise dangerously quickly.

Practice safe riding

Kids should ride an appropriately sized bike and be fitted with the correct size helmet. (Shutterstock)

The Canada Safety Council says the majority of children's bicycle accidents do not involve motor vehicles, but are falls or collisions with other cyclists, stationary objects or pedestrians.

  • Children grow quickly and a bicycle that is too small can be a safety hazard. A bicycle that is too big can  also be hazardous. Make sure the bike is properly fitted to a child's body.
  • Make sure children are wearing the right size helmet and they are wearing it properly.
  • At a minimum, bicycles should be equipped with a bell and reflectors.
  • It is generally advised children avoid riding a bicycle at nighttime (which requires special equipment and skills) and on busy streets.
  • If they are cycling on a road, children should be aware of road rules like riding on the right with traffic and stopping for stop signs.