With summer here we will be spending more time outdoors with our little ones enjoying the (hopefully) sunny weather. Buy Wise Be Safe (BWBS) recognises the importance of outdoor activity and on 31st July, is launching a week long summer safety campaign to encourage parents and carers to take a few simple steps that can help keep their children safe. We will be offering advice on:
- Sun safety, including choosing the right sunscreen and how to avoid sunburn;
- Outdoor equipment, from trampolines and swings to scooters and trikes;
- Water safety both at the beach and inland;
- BBQs, Fire Pits etc and how to avoid burns; and finally
- Staying safe in the garden.
We know that young children burn quicker than adults as their skin can be up to 15 times thinner than an adults. Please remember that their skin does not have to be peeling or blistering to be burned. If the skin is pink or red it is sunburnt. However, following our guidance will ensure you’re equipped with the best ways to protect your child and yourself!
- Sunburn is painful and can also increase the risk of developing skin cancer, particularly following repeated exposure.
- As children’s skin is much more sensitive than an adult’s it is essentially important that you protect your little ones from the sun’s rays.
- In the UK from March to October, children should be covered up with suitable clothing (including sunglasses), spend time in the shade (particularly between 11am and 3pm) and wear sunscreen. Furthermore children aged under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight. Consider installing a parasol or cover on your buggy to keep your child safe.
- Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed parts of your child’s body if they are out in the summer, even on cloudy or overcast days.
- When choosing sunscreen there are two important factors to consider: the sun protection factor (SPF) and the star rating. SPFs go from 2-50+ (based on the level of protection against the sun’s ultraviolet B radiation) (UVB) – with 50+ offering the strongest protection. The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection – the higher the star rating the better the protection.
- Reapply sunscreen often throughout the day and be sure to use a new bottle each summer. Sunscreen can go out of date once it is opened and it needs to be stored out of direct sunlight in a cool dry place. The number of months it is safe to be used after opening will be displayed on the product – and looks something like this image.
This image means it is safe to use the product for six months from first opening it after which it should be discarded. The number on your product could be different but will refer to how many months you can continue to use the product after opening for the first time.
Clothing and Sunglasses
When going out in the summer sun consider dressing your child in:
- a wide-brimmed hat that provides shade for the face, neck and ears;
- a long-sleeved top;
- trousers or long skirts in close-weave fabrics that don’t allow sunlight through; and
- sunglasses with wraparound lenses or wide arms. Check for the CE mark the safety standard BS EN ISO 12312:2013 and always buy from a reputable source.
Clothing can also be purchased that comes with a declared sun protection factor. But, be warned, washing this type of clothing can reduce the SPF so always follow the manufacturer’s guidance to take best care of the garment. For more information check out the link to Sunsmart at Cancer Research UK here.
Trampolines and outdoor equipment Our #SpringSafety campaign earlier this year covered all the checks that we advised parents and carers to make before the start of summer. You can find this information at the bottom of this page. When using a trampoline;
- Don’t let more than one person use it at the same time.
- Only use a trampoline if it is safe to do so and doesn’t have obstacles nearby or overhead.
- Make sure the springs are covered with the safety padding provided and the safety netting is around the trampoline.
Make sure you follow the link to get all the advice we offer by following https://www.buywisebesafe.org.uk/en/trampolines-2/
The advice specifically about trampolines also applies to other equipment you can buy for use in your garden. The need to check any large structure, like a swing, is properly secured before use must be done. Parents and carers should also think about the placement of such equipment. Think about how you child will use it? Could using it, or getting off it, be a hazard as well?
As with all playtime, adult supervision is key to ensure young children remain safe.
Ride on Toys
The following link provides lots of information on best practice for children to remain safe in your garden during the summer when using ride on toys – please go to https://www.buywisebesafe.org.uk/en/ride-on-toys/ to learn more.
As our guidance on that page states, consider what your priorities are before buying and also ensure the area is safe for them to play in before they start – prevention of injury is better than trying to cure and injury after it has happened. Any motorised ride on toys should have a speed limiter fitted. Even if it is a powered ride on toy, or not, the faster a child travels the more damage they could do if they fall off. This is why all children should wear protective clothing like helmets and knee and elbow pads to prevent serious injury.
Water Safety – At the beach and at home
When the summer sun is shining it’s understandable that, to keep young children in your care cool, your first reaction is to fill up the paddling pool and let them splash around and have fun. On the beach, it’s likely they’ll want to get in the water for the same reason. Both are perfectly fine to do, but supervision is important as small children can drown in just a few inches of water. Be sure to follow our advice below and make safety your number one choice.
At home As our advice in the Drowning section of the website says, water is fascinating for young children and a great source of fun and exercise – but it is also a danger if children are left to play in it, or near it, unsupervised. Accident figures show that drowning is one of the main causes of accidental death in babies and young children. Make sure you follow the link to get all the advice we offer. https://www.buywisebesafe.org.uk/en/risk-category/drowning/
On the Beach
Again, supervision is key when taking a trip to the seaside. It’s a source of great enjoyment for a child but the dangers should not be ignored. Our friends at the RNLI have offered the following advice to ensure trip to the coast is one to remember for happy reasons. They say,
- Always swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags
- Remember swimming in the sea is very different from swimming in a pool
- Find and read the safety signs
- Spot the dangers
- If you’re in an emergency, stick your hand up and wave for help
There’s also loads more safety advice on their website www.rnli.org
BBQs and Firepits
If you plan on using a BBQ you will need to ensure all young children in your home do not touch an open flame. But does your child also know not to touch coals, where a flame may not be visible? Once a BBQ has been used, the coals can retain their heat for a long time. If you are using a disposable BBQ, be sure to pour cold water on the coals and educate your little ones to stay well away. As with everything, supervision is key and make sure you do not leave a lit or hot BBQ unattended.
The UK’s fire service provides the following general tips regarding the safe use of a BBQ;
- Make sure your barbecue is in good working order.
- Ensure the barbecue is on a flat site, well away from a shed, trees or shrubs.
- Keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area.
- Never leave the barbecue unattended.
- Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies.
- Ensure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it.
- Use only enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches).
- Only use recognised fire lighters or starter fuel and only on cold coals – use the minimum necessary and never use petrol.
- Never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin – they could melt the plastic and cause a fire.
- Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder.
- Change cylinders outdoors if possible or in a well ventilated area.
- If you suspect a leak to the cylinder or pipe work, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles – tighten to fix but do not over-tighten.
- After cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas in the pipe work is used up.
Finally do not use a BBQ as a source of heat in an enclosed, unventilated space, like a tent or a garden summerhouse. The coals, when cool, will produce Carbon Monoxide which can be deadly.
Fire Pits, Incinerators and Torches
Sources of fire are often placed around the garden in an evening, for decorative purposes. Fire pits and torches can look lovely, but do pose a threat to young children. As our advice says in the Burns section of the website a child’s skin, in the age category of 0-5, is 15 times thinner that the skin of an adult.
If loading fuel into a torch, follow the manufacturers guidance and be careful not to overfill. The same applies to fire pits and incinerators, overfilling can result in flames appearing outside of the units. Also, if you have lit any item that requires ignition to work, do not leave it unattended.
Staying Safe in the Garden
Safety advice for your garden is similar to that of other rooms inside the home. Try and see things from your child’s point of view. In the kitchen we are all well accustomed to turning the handles of boiling pots of water away from the front of the hob to avoid little hands pulling them down. The same advice applies to sharp knives, where the adult is encouraged to place them away from the edge of the worktop. Similar safety tips apply to the garden which can make play time safe.
Clear the area
Before letting little ones out into the garden to play, always make sure you have checked around the garden and moved gardening tools away from the reach of a young child. These items should be stored away in a locked tool box or shed – which is preferably locked. Make sure you also place the key away from sight and out of reach of any under 5s.
Any larger electric tools like lawnmowers, or hedge trimmers, should also be stored away from a child’s reach and should never be turned on and left around. It could accidentally be turned on by the child and injure themselves quickly.
Not only would your child falling in animal waste be unpleasant for them, and you having to clean it off of them, it can also lead to your child getting sick or even blindness. Dog waste often contains roundworm larvae – which can cause blindness in people – but especially children. Youngsters are most at risk as they are more likely to put things in their mouth and less likely to wash their hands. Around 50 children a year in the UK suffer blindness as a result of toxocariasis (the illness related to the human infection of parasitic roundworms). Ensure your garden is cleared of all animal waste regularly before your child plays outside. Also make sure litter trays are out of reach of children and any sand pits you may have, for your child to use, are covered overnight to avoid animals burying their waste in the sand.
Just like the advice states above here, take time to see your garden from your child’s eyes. Consider how you can make steps safe in your garden and block-off any raised elements where your child could fall from height.
Also, if you are using weed killers, slug pellets or other poisons, care will need to be taken when using these – and then allowing your child to play in the same area. All of these can harm children if ingested or touched.