Written By: Patrick Brown and Cody Malloy, Summer Student
Summer is officially here, and no one is more excited about the hot weather than our energetic children. After months of being constantly stuck at home due to schools being closed due to COVID-19, children are finally ready to get outside and have some fun.
The number one thing we can all do to ensure our children are safe is to ensure we drive slowly and cautiously in our communities. As well, we should also consider avoiding the use of the car for short distances in areas where children play.
Children are unpredictable at times and heightened awareness by adults is key to their safety. As well, we should also consider some other tips that may help.
Although kids will be quick to whip out their bicycles, it’s important to first take the proper safety measures. Under the law, children must wear a properly fitted and approved bicycle helmet.
Most local bylaws permit younger children to ride on the sidewalk. Again, the number one preventative measure to protect our children on bikes is to drive slowly and safely.
When driving in areas where children are, ensure that you will be able to stop your vehicle quickly. Always be watching for children playing to ensure that if they make an unexpected move, you are ready to react.
All drivers must give at least one meter when passing cyclists. Where young people are riding, slow down and proceed around the cyclist when you can ensure you can do it safely. Otherwise, be patient and wait.
One of the greatest dangers to children is drivers who are distracted and look at their phones. This is leading to drivers leaving the roadway and potentially striking children as they play. Using your phone and other forms of distraction inside a car puts children at high risk.
Contact between a car and a child even at slow speeds has tragic consequences. Always make sure before you reverse in your neighborhood to be hyper-vigilant for children on sidewalks, behind the car, or on the road.
By putting safety first, kids can enjoy their summer ride in the sun.
2) Playing on the street
Whether it’s hide and seek, road hockey, skateboarding, or any other fun activity, kids love to play on the street with their neighbourhood friends. Unfortunately, an inattentive motorist can come by at any time and put your kids at risk. Pedestrian accidents involving children playing outside are a very real danger.
It is important that all communities monitor the road activity in their neighbourhoods and educate small children about the risks associated with drivers. If drivers are driving at high rates of speed in your neighbourhood, contact your local councillors and road authorities to try to have measures implemented to reduce speed. These can include speed reduction, bulb-outs, speed bumps, road diets, signage, etc. A comprehensive list of recommendations local authorities can employ are listed in the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario Pedestrian Death Review.
Whether it’s at a pool or a beach, children love swimming and all of the fun games that go along with it. However, fun in the water comes with a very serious safety hazard. The danger of children drowning is very real.
Swimming children should be supervised by an adult at all times. If your child is swimming at a municipal pool or local beach, see if there’s a lifeguard on duty.
As swimmers ourselves, we can do our part to look out for the well-being of all children. If you are swimming in a pool or local lake, take notice of children playing in the water nearby. Be on the lookout for any child that may appear to be struggling to keep themselves afloat.
On average, about 400 people die from drowning every year in Canada. By taking swimming safety seriously, we can lower this heartbreaking statistic. If you see a child in distress in the water, immediately call 911.
On a nice cottage weekend, sometimes there’s nothing more fun than taking the family out on the boat to check out the local lake. Unfortunately, boating accidents involving children are quite common during Ontario summer months.
Like driving, drinking and boating do not mix and can have deadly consequences to children and others on the lake. If you and your family believe that this is an issue in the areas where you boat or swim, you can notify the local authorities of your concern.
If you want to tow the kids on a tube, ensure you have a spotter on the lookout for other watercraft and any fallen tubers. Properly fitted lifejackets for children are a must to ensure the kids have a fun and safe cottage weekend on the water.
Always be on the lookout for children playing in the water. If you’re driving your boat near a designated swimming area, be sure to slow down and watch out for any children. Children may be too busy playing to notice nearby boats, so we must all do our part to put the safety of children first when driving close to shore.
Although the road to organized sports, such as baseball and soccer, still remains unclear as Ontario continues to reopen from social distancing restrictions, kids are sure to play unorganized sports for fun with their friends at local parks.
Always make sure that your kids are wearing the proper footwear and have the proper safety equipment for the sport. Playing soccer in flip flops is most certainly going to result in a rolled ankle, or worse.
If your child is playing baseball, ensure they wear a properly fitted batting helmet to avoid serious brain injuries. Concussions are a major risk in children’s sports. If your child is injured and reports any concussion-related symptoms, take your child to a doctor.
If you’re throwing a ball around amongst your friends with children playing nearby, be sure to be vigilant in looking out for unsuspecting children that may wander close to you. Whether it’s an errant throw or chasing down a ball in the air, the last thing anyone wants is a collision with a child. By being aware of our surroundings, we can ensure fun at the park for all ages.
6) Left alone in a car
Leaving young children alone in a hot car is a very serious risk to your child’s health. Despite the obvious risk, on average, one child in Canada dies from heatstroke in a hot car every year.
Never leave your children in a car alone. If you can’t bring your child with you, arrange for daycare for your child. A child’s life can be in danger even only after a few minutes inside a hot car. No, cracking the window isn’t a good alternative either.
Surprisingly, most incidents related to children left unattended in hot cars are accidental. As crazy as this may sound, always check the backseat when getting out of your car. If you see a child in distress alone in a car during the summer months, call 911.
7) Playground climbing
Although playgrounds were previously closed by the provincial government, the summer is the perfect time for kids to utilize municipal playgrounds. However, children should avoid climbing on areas that aren’t meant to be reached. A supervising adult should ensure children aren’t trying to climb on anything that’s unsafe. Games such as “Grounders”, which is an alternate game of “tag” where one person has their eyes closed, are extremely dangerous and should be avoided.
If you’re supervising your child at a playground, ensure they’re using the equipment in the way it’s designed to be used. No one wants to take their child to the hospital for a broken arm after an unnecessary fall.
If you notice faulty or damaged playground equipment, be sure to contact your local municipality to get it repaired. Whether it’s a broken chain on a swing or a sharp edge on a ladder, these issues should be brought to your municipality’s attention as soon as possible to avoid children getting injured.
Backyard trampolines are certainly a popular activity for children in the summer. However, if used improperly, they are extremely dangerous for children. Improper use of a trampoline can result in serious brain or spinal cord injuries, resulting in permanent disfigurement of the child. Trampolines should be used under adult supervision, and stunts such as flips should not be attempted by children that have not had proper training.
Ontario thankfully has a vast array of hiking trails for families to explore this summer. Hiking is a great way to see the beautiful landscape of Ontario while getting physical exercise.
However, children are at risk of many hiking injuries and exercising safety while hiking is very important. If you’re on a trail near a family, be sure to give children extra space. Children may unexpectedly stop on a trail, resulting in a collision with another hiker.
If you’re taking your child out on a hike, make sure they’re wearing the proper footwear. If any cliffs are nearby, ensure your child doesn’t wander too far from the edge.
Also ensure children take the proper measures to prevent against bug bites, such as wearing long clothing and using bug spray, if you’re hiking in an area with ticks. Lyme disease has recently become a growing concern in Ontario. When you get back from a hike, you should change your clothes and check your child for ticks and any potential tick bites.
Always consider your child’s safety when venturing into the bug-filled woods in Ontario during the summer.
Last but not least, an overarching concern that applies to almost all summertime activities is too much exposure to our friendly, but no so friendly neighbour, the sun. Ensure your child is wearing sunscreen with the appropriate SPF level. Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is recommended for children. Make sure your kids stay properly hydrated and be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke.
Summer can be the most fun time of the year for families to spend time together, but sometimes there are others who don’t take the necessary precautions.
If your child suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, McLeish Orlando is here to help. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. One of our lawyers will evaluate your child’s case.