Family health

14 surprising summertime dangers

Summertime is about being carefree—but you have to stay smart when kids are on the move outdoors. Here are some risks you may not have considered.

By Jill Buchner

14 surprising summertime dangers

Photo: iStockphoto

Venomous caterpillars

Sure, they look cute and fuzzy, but when your child picks up a hickory tussock moth caterpillar, they run the risk of getting a skin reaction that includes redness, stinging, itching and burning—some people will even experience nausea. So when it comes to caterpillars and other insects, it's best to teach kids to look but not touch..

14 surprising summertime dangersWiki Commons/Judy Gallagher

Overheated garden hoses

The garden hose is a fun summer toy, but keep the kids away when you first turn on the tap. Research has shown that the remaining water inside a hose that’s been left out in the sun can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to cause second- or third-degree burns in kids and pets. Once running water clears away the steamy stagnant water that was left in hose, it becomes a safe temperature and is ready for a water fight.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Wire grill brushes

Metal bristles on those grill brushes have gotten a bad rap because they’ve been winding up in people’s food, then becoming lodged in their throats where they need to be surgically removed. An estimated 1,700 Americans went to the emergency room between 2002 and 2014 for this problem. Instead of a wire grill brush, try a wooden scraper or a natural-bristle brush—any debris from these tools will burn away when you fire up the grill, so it doesn’t end up in your family’s meal.

14 surprising summertime dangers

Trampolines

This summer alone, there have been reports of spinal injuries, broken bones, collapsed lungs and concussions in kids who were playing on trampolines. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against home trampoline use, citing 98,000 injuries caused by trampolines in a single year. Think your kid is safe because you have netting or padding around your trampoline? Think again. The organization says those measures don’t significantly reduce the risk of injury. 

14 surprising summertime dangers

Hot slides

Whether they’re made of metal or plastic, slides and other playground equipment can become dangerously hot under the beating sun. Always test the temperature of the slide—the whole slide, top to bottom—before your kid goes for it.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Mesh lining in swim trunks

There have been several reports of boys' foreskin becoming dangerously entangled in the mesh lining of their swim trunks. Although doctors say this is extremely rare and therefore nothing to stress about, some parents are cutting the lining out just to be safe. Guess it can't hurt.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Hot dogs, marshmallows and ice cubes

Keep a close eye on kids when they’re enjoying these summer treats—they’re just the right size to pose a choking risk. Cut hot dogs lengthwise first and then into slices, make sure kids take slow, small bites of large marshmallows (think campfire-roasted and squished into s’mores) and avoid slippery ice cubes until kids are older. Learn about other common choking hazards.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Hot splash pads, sand and pavement

Wiggle your kid’s feet into water shoes to keep them protected on super hot days. It’s possible for kids’ feet to be severely burned at splash pads, particularly when running over metal grates in the ground, and on scorching hot sand and concrete surfaces.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Sun hat straps

That chin strap or drawstring on your child’s sun hat might be handy for actually keeping it on his head, but straps can snag and pose a strangulation risk when he’s playing. Many sun hats for kids feature chin-strap fasteners that release under pressure, but some don’t, or they can malfunction. Bucket hats and velcro straps are safe bets.

14 surprising summertime dangers

Blankets over strollers

Parents who toss a blanket over their baby’s stroller have good intentions—their sensitive skin shouldn’t be exposed to too much sun. But when you cover your baby’s stroller with a blanket, it traps heat inside and puts your infant at risk of heat stroke. A Swedish study found that covering a stroller even with a thin blanket increased the temperature inside by a whopping 20 degrees Fahrenheit in half an hour.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Popsicles

Sure, they’re delicious, but be careful when giving ice pops to toddlers. They should enjoy them while sitting—not running—to avoid choking and other injuries. And be sure to take away the stick as soon as they’re done to avoid splinters.

Little boy licking a PopsiclePhoto: iStockphoto

Secondary drowning

You know all about how to keep your kid safe in the water, but did you know that it’s important to keep a close eye on him after any choking incidents in the pool? Accidentally inhaling water can irritate little lungs and cause problems getting oxygen into the blood. Fatigue, difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, coughing or chest pain that comes on in the 24 hours after a choking incident are all red flags for secondary drowning.  

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Raccoon poop

Raccoons carry all kinds of diseases that we typically don’t have to worry about. But if you have a masked friend or two hanging out in your backyard backyard by night, and a toddler who likes to crawl over the ground and explore by day, there could be trouble. Roundworm, a parasite that infects raccoons’ feces, can cause serious harm in kids, including blindness and organ damage.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

Lawnmowers

Your imagination doesn’t have to work too hard to figure out why kids and lawn mowers don’t mix. Make sure little ones are 100 percent supervised when the lawn mower is running, keep it locked away safely when not in use and never use a riding mower with a kiddo on your lap.

14 surprising summertime dangersPhoto: iStockphoto

This article was originally published on Jun 01, 2021
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