By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for Progressive Agriculture Foundation
FINALLY…..after what seemed to be an endless winter, beautiful weather is upon us! This year, Mother Nature seemed to skip over spring and move us straight into summer. At least that was true for me in Central Pennsylvania. With summer comes warm weather, bright sunshine and numerous outdoor activities. For many of us, Memorial Day serves as the unofficial start to summer and as June approaches, schools beginning letting out for summer break. Soon the anticipation for family vacations, picnics, and other fun-filled activities sets in. However, the moment we step out our front door, we run the risk of being faced with potentially dangerous situations.
In the hustle and bustle of our hectic schedules, we tend to forget key items to keep us safe on a day-to-day basis. We grab the swim gear and forget the sunscreen, we jump on our bike or ATV and forget the helmet, and we load up the canoe or kayak and forget the life vest! On many occasions, we hop in our car and forget to do the simplest things like fasten our seatbelt because we are only going a short distance. Even when we assure our seatbelt is fastened, we become distracted adjusting the air conditioning, finding our favorite station on radio, or sending what we believe is an urgent text message. I am sure all of us have been guilty of one these scenarios in the past! This summer, let’s pledge to change that!
As we kick-off summer, let’s strive to make special memories with our loved ones and avoid tragedies at all cost. Here are a few tips to help make sure your summer is a safe, healthy, and happy one:
- It is OK to say NO! If your child asks if they can ride on the tractor with you, ask to leave their helmet off as they hop on their ATV, or leave their seatbelt unfastened when taking a quick trip to the grocery store, think about the potential consequences before you agree. Accidents can happen in the blink of eye and many times they happen close to home. What can happen in a matter of seconds can have repercussions that last a lifetime! Say NO to potential hazards and say YES to safety at all times!
- Put together a first aid kit to take on the go! This can be a fun family project and can include some additional items that are most needed in the summer months such as sunscreen, aloe, bug spray, medications for bee stings, and tweezers to remove ticks or splinters. Even if your family if lucky enough not to need the first aid kit, you never know when you will be in the presence of another that may be in need of it. It is always best to be prepared!
- Don’t forget to hydrate! Water is one of the human body’s basic needs for survival that often gets overlooked. In the extreme heat, drinking water and plenty of it is essential! Don’t forget the H2O when you are on the go!
- Summer wouldn’t be the same without picnics! Be sure to use precautions when working around a gas grills or campfires, as well as practice food safety protocols. Wash your hands when handling food and keep food at appropriate temperatures to ensure they do not spoil. A good rule of thumb is to not let perishable foods unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.
- Keep your cool in and around the pool! Pay attention to signs alerting you to rules and potential dangers in swimming areas. Avoid diving in shallow areas and never swim alone. The handling of pool chemicals can also be a hidden danger. Chemicals are added to the water in pools to stop germs from spreading and keep the pool clean; however, they need to be handled and stored safely to avoid serious injuries. Nearly 5,000 pool chemical-related injuries, including respiratory, eye and skin injuries, were treated in emergency rooms throughout the United States in 2012.
- Avoid distracting behavior while driving! The reports of accidents taking place during the summer holidays is sobering. Be sure to drive responsibly at all times. Avoid drinking alcohol, texting, speeding, and other distracting behavior while behind the wheel. It is important to always be aware of your surroundings and watch for other vehicles that may be driving erratically, as well as pedestrians or animals that may cross your path. Also, if we are traveling a distance and become tired or experience bad weather don’t be afraid to pull over!
- Lead by Example! As we reflect on National Family Month, which runs annually from Mother’s Day through Father’s Day, an opportunity exists for families to share special time together, develop or renew relationships, identify or rediscover needs and remind everyone of the importance of family involvement in raising healthy, confident kids for America’s future. This serves as a great opportunity to realize that we are our children’s first teachers and role models. Demonstrating safety at all times is crucial in not only keep our kids safe, but assuring they make safe decisions for years to come!
These safety tips are examples of what children learn when they attend Progressive Agriculture Safety Days, which are held each year in more than 400 local communities throughout North America. Learn more about our farm Safety Day programs at www.progressiveag.org