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Summer Safety

by Mariella Camilleri, for kidsmalta.com
As Summer breezes in, bright, warm days and long evenings stretch ahead of us - the schools shut down and children are once again free to enjoy their childhood without the stress of exams and homework.  As a family our routine will change and as we spend more time outdoors we face different challenges and hazards as we try to keep the children safe.
Malta is more vibrant during the Summer months than at any other time of the year because the beaches come to life, the seafronts become crowded and people retreat into their homes late at night. Since we get to spend more time outdoors it is important that as parents we prepare ourselves for the challenges that come along with this season.
The beach can provide hours of relaxation for the parents but we must still guard against hazards like sunburn, jelly fish bites and accidents. Unfortunately skin cancer is on the rise and repetitive sun burn during childhood doubles the risk of developing this disease in adulthood. Always put on sunscreen before  leaving the house in the morning. Our faces are always exposed to the rays of the sun, so it is advisable to use a high factor sunscreen and to reapply this often especially when children are swimming or playing on the beach.
The sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3.00pm so always seek shade during this time of day. Fair skinned people burn faster than darker skinned individuals and should therefore be more cautious when it comes to sun exposure. Consult your G.P if you develop any unusually shaped moles, your doctor will advise you as to what to look out for when it comes skin cancer.
On the beach young children require plenty of supervision. Keep in mind that a young child can drown even in a small amount of water so always make sure that they are wearing arm bands and never let them out of your sight. It is highly advisable to teach children how to swim as soon as possible. Some swimming schools cater for toddlers and teach children how to feel comfortable in the water from a very early age. As children grow they will be invited to swimming parties and days at the beach with friends and knowing that your child can swim well can be very reassuring for parents.
Jellyfish also present another hazard and each year they seem to multiply. Do not swim or let your children swim if you spot jellyfish in the water. If you do get stung, clean up the area with an alcohol solution. Always keep a first aid kit in the car and make sure that it contains all that you might require for minor accidents. As the beaches become more and more crowded with both tourists and locals it is important to supervise our children at all times and to make sure that they are playing safely.
As the temperatures goes up, our homes tend to get very hot and many of us leave open doors and windows. Children and climbing go hand in hand so make sure that your child cannot climb up on anything and lean out of the balcony railings or any windows. Even a flower pot can be used as a step stool so take a look around and make sure that your house provides the necessary safety for the months ahead.
Swimming pools should have a guard around the edges to prevent young children from falling in. If you have a yard or garden and the children enjoy watering the plants or swimming in a paddling pool, make sure that the floors are non slip, if not buy a rubber mat and provide towels so that they can dry their feet before running around. Teach older children to wear rubber shoes and to make sure that their hands are dry before plugging in appliances.
If you like to Bar-B-Q be careful not to leave children unattended beside it. Try to take out all that you will require before you start cooking so that you can also monitor children and keep them away from the flames. Fire starters and fuel should be stored out of children’s reach together with matches and lighters. In the kitchen make sure that uncooked meat is kept in the fridge at all times to avoid the risk of food poisoning and contamination.
If you are taking a holiday, pack up any medication you might require because you will rarely find the same medication abroad, also pack up a first aid kit for any eventuality. If you are going on a driving holiday make sure that you book  car seats for young children and make sure they are strapped in at all times. If using trains teach children to stay close to you during boarding because train doors can close abruptly and leave members of your family behind. In large shopping malls make sure that your children don’t wander off and get lost and teach children not to play around on escalators because they can get hurt easily. Traffic differs in every country - in Italy it is common for people to drive around in full speed so caution should be applied at all times even when using traffic lights.
Good planning goes a long way in preventing accidents indoors, on the beach and also during holidays. Summer is a time to enjoy our families more than ever because we are not faced with homework, strict routines and early bedtimes. Since the end of the school year provides children with a big sense of relief it is a time when we can really show our children how to enjoy childhood in a stress free way.
Bringing our home - safety up to standard is important especially during Summer when the children are away from school. Every parent wants to enjoy peace of mind and to relax, so whether you are going on holiday or planning to spend days at the beach, we must be always one step ahead, so that our children can enjoy Summer in a safe environment.

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