Summer brings a time of change – with hotter weather, many families may be planning holidays to foreign shores or an equally enjoyable well-earned break away in the UK somewhere. Whatever the choice, we want to make sure that safety being a priority isn’t forgotten about while your little ones enjoy some fun in the sun.
This year’s #SummerSafety campaign focuses on some of the unknown risks you could encounter this year, covering best practice advice relating to travel as well as tips for around the home – along with advice of how to stay safe in the sun and guidance on visiting beaches.
There are some really easy rules to remember and follow when travelling with children in a car. They must use a child’s car seat until they are 135cms in height or are 12 years old – whichever is soonest. With smaller children, or more specifically under 5s, your child’s car seat should be chosen based upon their weight or height and not their age. Not all car seats fit all cars – ensure you buy a compatible seat before paying for it! There are also newer styled car seats that recline the child back, resulting in them laying almost flat. These have been proven to be the safest mode of transport for smaller children under the age of 15 months, if using an I-Size car seat, or 9kg for any other type of car seat. All children travelling in a car should be in the rear of the vehicle and should be rearward facing – as crash tests have shown there is drastically reduced injuries suffered by the child when they are rear facing by over 75%.
So the car is packed, and you’re all ready for your trip to the beach. It may even be your first trip out as a family. But how long can you travel with your child remaining in the seat, without taking them out of it? Only 2 hours is the answer. Though a newer study has revealed that anything over 30 minutes has shown to reduce oxygen flow in a young baby’s blood. This is why the lay-flat car seats have been made – they are safer and can increase the time you can travel for without stopping by up to 4 hours.
Before you travel anywhere, be sure to have checked the installation of the car seat. Police and Trading Standards checks have found most car seats are fitted incorrectly. Check the instructions for fitting advice. If you can’t find the instructions – search online for a digital version.
Also avoid placing blankets over your child while they are in the car seat as they could overheat.
The same advice, about not using blankets or muslin cloths in the height of summer sunshine, applies if you are pushing a young child in a pram or carrycot. A Swedish study found a covered pram became 15 degrees hotter than an uncovered pram.
Sun advice has been modernised over the years as we understand more and more about what protections we all should be taking when exposed to sunlight. The advice now has 5 easy to remember steps which we will list below.
- Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
- Slop on SPF 30 or higher water-resistant sunscreen, at least 20 minutes before exposure to the sun. Reapply every two hours when outdoors or more often if perspiring or swimming.
- Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
- Seek shade.
- Slide on sunglasses
The advice can be found by following this link – https://youtu.be/WOv5HGOJYTA
NHS advice states that children under the age of 6-months should be kept out of direct sunlight. This is because their skin contains too little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour – and also provides some protection from the sun. Older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, particularly in the summer between 11am and 3pm – when the sun is strongest. If you go out when it’s hot, attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight.
To enhance the message above, Buy Wise Be Safe would urge parents of under 5s to buy a new sun sunscreen at the start of every Spring/Summer as the products do have specific use by time scales once they have been opened for the first time. Sunscreen should also be stored out of direct sunlight. Babies and young children (0-under 5s) will need to have their skin protected between March and October in the UK.
Clothing can also be purchased that comes with an SPF. But, be warned, in washing this type of clothing the SPF can be reduced. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidance to care for the garment.
Ensure your child’s eyes are protected with sunglasses that meet the British Standard – BSEN 1836:2005.
Beach and water safety
Supervision for under 5s on beaches is a parent or carer’s number one priority. If you have never visited the particular beach before that you have chosen to enjoy, take some time to identify where the risks are. This can be anything from rock pools, to parts of a beach that may have cliffs above them. Always choose a section of the beach where you feel you and your family will be safest.
The advice for your under 5s, if passing near rivers and lakes, is never allow them to swim in these. Currents in rivers can be too strong and can cause your child to struggle to stay afloat. Again supervision is important when your child is near any source of water.
Thanks to the RNLI we have a great video highlighting the risk of Rip Tides. https://youtu.be/Mn44F5n34fI
In the UK, the majority of RNLI Lifeguard incidents involve rip currents. They are a major cause of accidental drowning on beaches across the world. Rips are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly drag people and debris away from the shallows of the shoreline and out to deeper water. They tend to flow at 1–2mph but can reach 4–5mph, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer. Rips are especially powerful in larger surf, but never underestimate the power of any water. They are also found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and groynes.
How to spot and avoid a rip current
Rip currents can be difficult to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea’s surface. Even the most experienced beachgoers can be caught out by rips, so don’t be afraid to ask lifeguards for advice. They will show you how you can identify and avoid rips. The best way to avoid rips is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags, which have been marked based on where is safer to swim in the current conditions. This also helps you to be spotted more easily, should something go wrong.
If you do find yourself caught in a rip:
– Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
– If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
– If you’re able to, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
– Always raise your hand and shout for help.
If you see anyone else in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
If you are paddling with your child in the sea, be aware of the RNLI’s advice. Make yours and your child’s safety your number one choice!
Here’s another video from the RNLI about the importance of safety when visiting the beach, with some handy messages.
Planning to head to the beach for some fun? Why not head to a lifeguarded one? Our lifeguards can offer advice about hazards including rip currents, so always follow their advice and swim between the red and yellow flags. Check out this link to find our lifeguarded beaches: http://rnli.info/l7U5zd
Posted by RNLI on Friday, 20 April 2018
Home – Inside and Outside
Continuing with the drowning prevention advice, the biggest threat to your under 5s’ well-being inside the home is bath time. But by just supervising them when they are near water, and being within an arms reach of them when they are in water, can make a huge difference in terms of safety. Babies drown silently and can get into difficulty in water just 3cms deep. Ignore a ringing phone, don’t answer the door. Make the child’s safety your number one priority.
Outside the home, supervision is important as well – especially if you have a pond in your garden or have set up a paddling pool to cool your little ones down. But water is not the only risk during summer to be aware of.
With the heatwave that the UK has just enjoyed, many homes have left windows open wide to cool the temperatures inside. If you think there’s a chance close windows where a child could climb out, of or fall out of, it if you live in a flat that may have a balcony or patio doors.
The risk of an under 5 getting burned by hot items inside the home is also a threat in the summer, especially if you have a BBQ, or have lit torches and fire pits to enjoy the late evenings. Once you have used any of these items, always ensure you have followed the manufacturers guidance to cool it. Ensure any children in your home don’t touch any part of something that has been lit or store burning objects.
Away from the burning risks, if you have a trampoline in you garden, under 5s should not be using it due to their growing bodies not being formed enough to support the impact of using one. We would encourage them to join a professional club where supervision would allow them to enjoy this hobby.
Key Point Reminder
- Whatever you choose to do this summer, we want to make sure that safety is a priority and isn’t forgotten about while your little ones enjoy some fun in the sun. Remember Supervision is the key to having a safe summer.
- Double check your car seat is secure before every journey! Remember to take regular breaks and never travel longer than 2 hours with your child in a car seat. If you’re out walking with you baby in a carry cot, do not cover it with a blanket or muslin cloth as this can increase the temperature inside the cot.
- Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide! (bit.ly/bwbscampaigns for all the info on this!) Under 5s will need their skin protected between March and October in the UK with children younger than 6 months advised to keep out of direct sunlight.
- Follow our advice direct from the @RNLI when visiting beaches this summer. Read our advice and discover how to identify and avoid rip currents. Swim between the flags and always at a life guarded beach. Supervision, again, is a number one priority when near any source of water.
- At home, if windows are open to keep the inside cool – ensure they are closed or locked on vent when leaving a child that can climb alone in a room. If you live in a flat, lock any doors that lead to balconies. Supervise children when in the bath, outside in the paddling pool, or near water. Never be more than an arm’s reach from a child in water.