Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A. | 5/27/2005 2:06:00 AM
Summer is here, and outdoor play ranks as a favorite activity for most young children. But that means safety also should be a concern for parents and caregivers, according to LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.
"Summertime gives children the opportunity to use and develop their large muscles while running, climbing, skipping, hopping, throwing, catching, digging, riding bikes and swimming," Gioe says, adding, however, "While outdoor play is a favorite for children, parents and caregivers must be aware that outdoor injuries are the leading cause of injuries to young children.
Gioe and other experts say parents and caregivers should pay particularly close attention to the outdoor areas in which children play and the weather conditions they are playing in.
"Planning and supervision are the key to keeping children safe while outdoors," Gioe says, adding, "Approximately 40 percent of the outdoor injuries to children are due to poor adult supervision. Choosing a safe environment for play is extremely important."
Some of the safety issues experts say you should examine include:
–Swimming pools should be fenced.
–Children should not be allowed to swim in pools unless a certified lifeguard is on duty.
–If children are playing in wading pools or sprinklers in the yard, adults should always be present.
–Play areas should have cushioned surfaces under slides, swings and monkey bars. Wood chips, sand, mulch or pea gravel at least 12 inches deep beneath and around equipment will help keep children from breaking limbs.
–Equipment should be age-appropriate for the children playing on the playground.
–Slats in tree houses or forts should be close enough so that children may not fall through or get their heads stuck between them.
–Strings and ropes should not be present on playgrounds.
–Beware of metal slides, since they can get hot enough to burn children
The LSU AgCenter expert also points out that sun exposure can be hazardous to children – particularly in Louisiana. So she says to consider the following sun safe tips for the protection of yourself and your children:
–Stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
–Choose and apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen liberally at least 30 minutes prior to going outdoors, and reapply often.
–Wear hats or caps that protect the head and face from the sun
–Shaded areas should be available to children
–Water should be available to children at all times when playing outdoors.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.