Bike rides are classic summer fun. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy this sport. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind as your family hits the bike trails:
- Wear a helmet! The most important thing you can do to keep safe and healthy while biking is wearing a bike helmet. Most parents and grandparents know to put a helmet on their kids, but remember adults need helmets too! Set a good example for your children by making sure everyone, regardless of age, is wearing a helmet.
- Other safety gear can be helpful in reducing injuries as well. Knee pads and elbow pads can prevent many scrapes (and tears!), especially for new bikers.
- Follow the rules of the road. Teach your children the importance of biking single file, staying to the side of the road, using hand signals when turning, and obeying all traffic laws.
- Start small. Try a family biking trip around your neighborhood until everyone shows they can have fun while following the rules. Branch out from there, trying longer trips, or take your bikes to a park or trail for variety.
Whether you’re swimming at your community pool, lounging next to a kiddie pool in your backyard, or enjoying the water in one of Iowa’s beautiful lakes, ponds, or rivers, water safety is critical.
- Have a Water Watcher. This is a designated adult who watches children in the water at all times. Adults in a group or at a family get-together can take turns being Water Watcher. If you are a parent or grandparent at the community pool with your children, keep an eye on your kids and don’t rely solely on the lifeguards.
- Enroll your children in swim lessons. This will not only improve their swimming skills and confidence but will also teach them about water safety.
- For kids who can’t swim, ensure they wear a life jacket that is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and is appropriate for their weight and water activity. “Water wings” that fit around a child’s upper arms do NOT qualify as appropriate water safety gear.
- While enjoying boating, kayaking, or other water activities, life jackets should be worn by all family members regardless of age or swimming ability.
Grandparents are often surprised to learn there are so many more safety-related topics to keep in mind when caring for their grandchildren. We all do the best we can with the information we’ve been given. As the years have progressed, so has our understanding of what is and is not safe, as well as the technology we have available to help reduce childhood injuries and deaths.
Top Safety Tips for Grandparents
- Back to Sleep. Twenty or thirty years ago, when today’s parents were children, it was common for parents to put babies to sleep on their stomachs. Science has since determined that a child’s risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is significantly reduced if babies are placed on their backs to sleep. Always place grandchildren, especially babies, on their backs to sleep with nothing extra in their sleeping space, including stuffed animals, blankets, or pillows, which are all suffocation hazards.
- Child Safety Seats. The technology behind child safety seats, also known as car seats, has drastically improved in the past 20+ years. Car crashes are one of the leading causes of injury and death for all children ages 18 and under. Complicating matters, child safety seats are often bulky and difficult to install. Contact Blank Children’s Hospital to have a certified car seat technician properly install child passenger seats and advise grandparents on the best car seat restraint system to use for each grandchild.
- Phone numbers. Most landlines have disappeared, and people usually only have a cell phone. Find a way for grandparents to have easy access to phone numbers they need. Write or type them out to have on a piece of paper in their purse or wallet. Even better, program safety numbers into their cell phones, such as the number for each parent as well as the non-emergency police number and the Poison Control Center.
- Medications and Cleaning Supplies. Many grandparents take a variety of medications. Although adults can easily recognize pills are medication, children often mistake pills for candy. Make sure all grandparents’ medications are stored in child-safe containers in cupboards that are out of reach of grandchildren. In addition, ensure that all cleaning supplies are stored in cupboards that are secured with child locks.
- Child-proofing Grandma and Grandpa’s House. Grandparents don’t usually think about the need for child locks or outlet covers, but if grandchildren visit often or are cared for by grandparents, safety should be your top priority. Visit the Hannah Geneser Learning Center and Safety Store for all things safety-related. Their knowledgeable staff can help grandma and grandpa successfully child-proof their home to protect the children they love.
Working together, parents and grandparents can ensure a safe, happy, and healthy summer for all!