Summer Safety: Bet you didn't think of that!

Throngs of children are out and about enjoying all that summer has to offer, including swimming pools, summer camp, vacation travel, and trips to zoos and festivals. While summer break is still the same sensational right-of-passage you fondly remember from childhood, you’re now an adult, and chances are you still have to go to work. The reality is that many parents loath summer because it means adjusted daycare schedules, back-to-back day camps or sports clinics, and most of all additional worry that kids are staying away from certain dangers that seem to unfailingly accompany lazy days and extra hours of sunlight.

Chill. We’ve got a guide to summer safety from the people who are interacting with your kids all summer long. The usual suspects? Sure. But what about museum safety managers, rock climbing instructors, aquatics experts, and travel pros? We’ve got them too. Sit back, grab a lemonade and soak up these tips from some experts you probably never considered.

Ron Forbes, safety manager, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
When the sun comes out, so do barely-there kid’s shoes like flip-flops and Crocs. While airy and stylish, loose-fitting shoes can pose a serious danger on escalators. Escalators intrigue young kids, and they also are partial to catching these types of sandals in the teeth of the revolving steps as children get on and off, potentially causing harm to bare feet. Regardless of footwear, adults should closely supervise children riding on escalators and remind kids that escalators are not carnival rides but rather moving mechanical devices that could cause injury if used improperly.

Julie Menor, elementary teacher, Prune Hill Elementary
While a smart move on the environmental front, electric and hybrid cars can be silent killers if children playing near streets or on bikes are caught off-guard and are not able to react or get out of the way in time. Children can be focused on their fun and not hear an electric or hybrid car approaching or rounding a nearby corner. Don’t always count on driver awareness to prevent accidents; educate children on this issue by reminding them often and pointing out these types of cars on the road. Whether playing inside or out, it’s always a smart idea to teach children to be very aware of their surroundings at all times.

Sheryl Juber, aquatics manager, Portland Parks & Recreation
There’s no faster way to put a small child in danger than to leave him unattended near a swimming pool. Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool first. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere but in the pool. Don’t add fuel to the proverbial fire by leaving toys and floats in the pool that can attract young children and cause them to fall in the water as they reach out for them.
Perhaps just as important as preventing disaster is being prepared in case disaster strikes. Always be prepared for an emergency by having rescue equipment and a phone near the pool. Be you and your child’s own first line of defense by ensuring that every person in your household who is capable learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) — stat! — and make it a priority to give your child swim lessons.

Officer Mills, Portland-area police officer
One of the scariest moments in a parent’s life can be the moment they realize that their child is nowhere in sight. Remain calm, because in most cases, children haven’t strayed far. First, check inside your home. Believe it or not, children are often at home in another room or hiding in a discrete location without your knowledge. In living communities like apartment complexes, children may momentarily step inside a neighboring friend’s apartment without telling you. Get to know the neighbors in your complex or community, and set ground rules with your kids that specify which apartments they can enter and which they cannot. Remain in one place while kids are out playing — don’t step out to the grocery store or even go check the mail if it’s not located within sight of your home — conversely, one of the scariest moments in a child’s life can be the moment he realizes his parent is missing.

Kelly Simpson, environmental education, Portland Parks & Recreation
As strange as it sounds, avoid indoor air. The air you breathe inside your home can have two to five times more pollutants than the air outdoors. Furniture, paint, pressed wood products, cleaning agents, and air conditioning can all be sources of nasty air that can cause a range of sickness and health problems, including long-lasting illnesses like asthma. The short of it: don’t spend your summer cooped up inside! Head to a local park, where tall trees provide cool shade and cleaner air.

Betty Alvey, travel agent, Azumano Travel
Ways to dampen your summer vacation? Rain, lost luggage, coming down with a cold, perhaps, but how often can you blame a volcano eruption for coming in between you and the sandy beaches of Europe? Guard against the unknown, and the seriously unexpected, by purchasing travel insurance, especially when you are traveling far from home. Travel insurance is often considered nonessential, but in the event of a natural or weather disaster, it will cover you and your family’s emergency evacuation back home. Travel insurance, priced from $60 to $150 per adult over the age of 17 (under 17 is covered at no additional cost), will also cover annoyances like lost or stolen personal items, medication or medical treatment, and a change of travel plans if an immediate family member back home become ill. For the price of a one-hour massage at your resort, you can remain relaxed, with peace of mind.

Julie Arnold, camping expert, U.S. Outdoor Store
From waterfalls and beaches to lakes and mountains, the Northwest truly has it all for outdoor adventure seekers. But don’t let Mother Nature’s beauty fool you: she can be moody and unforgiving. Help kids take charge of their own outdoor safety by teaching them the importance of safety as the part of higher risk activities. Always take the “ten essentials” on every hike, even if just going out for a few hours, especially if it’s your first trip to that location. These include navigation, sun protection and lip balm, extra clothing, a flashlight or headlamp with a strobe feature, first-aid supplies, waterproof matches or a lighter, repair kit or multi-tool, extra food and water, and emergency shelter such as a light-weight, packable tarp and twine. Quick tip: Tape extra batteries to the strap on your headlamp or flashlight, so you don’t have to fumble around in the dark to find your spare.

Ellen Waters, community center supervisor, Portland Parks & Recreation
The number-one way to rain on a kid’s summertime parade? A broken bone wrapped in a sweaty cast! Contrary to your parental instinct, don’t slide down a playground slide with young children on your lap. But, if you must, be sure their little legs and feet are elevated above yours so they won’t catch on the slide. Sliding with adults is all fun and games until your tot’s foot catches on the slide, which combines with adult weight behind him to keep him moving, and he ends up spending the summer watching cartoons from the couch.

Ken Ristau, general manager, Portland Rock Gym
Let’s be real, Northwest summers can often let in some rain and chilly temperatures from time to time. When enjoying the great outdoors this summer, staying warm and dry is a must for optimal health and safety no matter your age. Though avoiding getting wet is your goal, the unexpected can occur and it’s best to be prepared . . . and dry. Synthetic materials stay warmer than natural fibers when wet, so always opt for a lightweight rain parka rather than a cotton sweatshirt. If heading out to rough it with nature for an overnight wilderness trip, sandwich your sleeping bag between stuff sacks, with a plastic liner between each layer. The stuff sacks will prevent the plastic from tearing and will keep your sleeping bag from getting soggy in even the wettest conditions. Instead of a fancy ground cloth for your tent, which can trap water between the tarp and tent, use a plastic liner inside your tent. Any water that seeps through the floor will be stopped by the liner.

Ali Ryan, ParkScan coordinator, Portland Parks & Recreation
The ParkScan program isn’t a social media site set up for your teenage daughter to check out the cuties on the boys summer baseball team, it’s an online reporting system introduced by our local parks to allow park users to report problems instantly. Portland’s 250+ parks are a great summer play destination, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep them clean and safe. From swinging to skating, playing safe depends on having a place that is safe to play in. Keep an eye out for anything that needs to be cleaned up or repaired, and then simply report it to www.parkscanpdx.org.

When she’s not writing articles, Erin Griffin can be found spending time with her husband, Ryan, playing soccer, baking, and planning for the arrival of their first child.

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