Stay safe this summer
Whether your loved ones are seven or seventeen, the following top tips will help keep them out of harm’s way
1. Safe holidays
The age of your children will dictate your parenting direction here. Younger kids need to be taught not to talk to strangers or wander off, while for older teens, safety concerns might be more to do with money and health.
Teach all your kids to have a general awareness about themselves and their possessions:
- If staying at home, take care to shut and lock all windows and doors whenever you leave, no matter how hot the weather might be.
- If your older children have keys, ensure they know where they are at all times.
- Never keep your purse or wallet in the back pocket of your trousers – it can be plainly seen and easily lifted.
- If travelling with cash, keep separate amounts in separate places, so that you won’t lose everything if one bag goes missing. Keep all bags firmly zipped up and don’t leave valuables unattended.
- If travelling abroad, scan important documents and email them to your own address before you go – if you lose your passports, travel insurance or flight details, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re still able to travel.
Travel Insurance is vital, as emergency medical bills can easily sky rocket into the tens of thousands. Take your health and travel insurance policy details with you, and if you have teenagers venturing alone into the great unknown, make sure they do too.
2. Beach safety
One of the best things you can do to keep your family safe in the sea is to enrol them in swimming lessons. Weaker swimmers should be kept afloat by armbands and other buoyancy aids. Always keep your kids where you can see them and reach them quickly in an emergency.
Do your research about any beaches you frequent. Some may have strong currents and unpredictable tides, or the seabed may shelve unexpectedly.
If jellyfish or sea urchins are a potential hazard at your destination, make sure your kids wear suitable protective footwear while swimming, and teach them what these creatures look like so they can avoid touching one washed up on shore. Keep an anti-sting treatment in your first aid kit, and in the event of severe pain, swelling or difficulty breathing, seek urgent medical help.
3. Sensible skincare
When it comes to looking after your skin, it’s important to lead by example. Educate your children about sun safety so that they know you’re not just being a pain when you insist on covering them in cream.
- UVA rays harm your skin’s collagen and elastin, putting you at risk of developing skin cancer and resulting in premature skin ageing, including wrinkles, sun spots and discolouration.
- UVB rays directly damage the surface of your skin and are the main cause of sunburn, which can be extremely painful and put you out of action for some time.
The best lotions are water resistant, as these stop the product washing off in pools and seawater, and also retain effectiveness if you get particularly sweaty. Always choose a high SPF (sun protection factor) and reapply liberally after swimming or exercise, even if the product claims to last a number of hours.
4. Don’t risk holiday tummy ...
Nothing ruins a holiday faster than a bout of diarrhoea, so insist that all fruit and vegetables are thoroughly washed. When barbecuing meat, the primary concern is to avoid food poisoning from undercooked meat and germs such as salmonella and E.coli spreading from raw meat onto meat that is ready to be eaten. For this reason:
- Make sure all meat is thoroughly defrosted beforehand
- Wait until the coals are glowing red before you start to cook
- Turn the meat frequently so that it is evenly cooked
- Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat
- Ensure all juices run clear and there is no visible ‘pink’ meat left before eating
Only drink bottled water while abroad, as local plumbing and sewage specifications might not be up to the same standard as home, and if you’re especially concerned (perhaps due to previous experience), then clean your teeth with bottled water too.
Finally, if you’re visiting somewhere exotic, make sure you’ve all had the appropriate vaccinations within the necessary time period prior to travelling.
5. The great outdoors
Everyone wants to get out and about in the sunshine, so make the experience as safe as possible by taking along enough water, insect repellent and a small first aid kit for just in case. Heads of all ages should be kept covered to reduce the risk of sunstroke, and for the same reason take advantage of shade whenever possible. Ensure everyone keeps hydrated by drinking lots of water and / or juice.
Younger kids riding scooters and bikes should wear the appropriate headgear, and alert older teens to the dangers of hiring mopeds abroad (apparently in Thailand, 38 people die every day in scooter accidents). Also, no matter how cute they are, warn your family against petting animals when travelling abroad. Rabies and other infections are rife in some countries, and any animal you don’t know may well bite.
Finally, Ireland is great for outdoor music, arts and other family-friendly summer festivals – make sure you talk to your kids about what to do if they become separated from the family. Younger children can wear wrist bands with your contact details clearly displayed, kids of all ages should learn your mobile phone number off by heart and you should arrange an agreed meeting point just in case anyone gets lost.