Sunscreen? Check. Lifejacket? Check. You know the drill. But when it comes to staying safe on your summer vacation, there are other hazards you may not have thought about. These 7 summer vacation safety tips will help keep your family safe at the beach, by the pool, in the woods, and on the road.
Summer safety tip 1: Drowning is quiet.
Everyone thinks that people who are drowning yell, thrash and splash. They don’t. People in serious distress lose their ability to call out for help or wave. Instead, their instinctive drowning response causes them to hover upright at the surface of the water with their head tilted back and mouth open, gasping or hyperventilating.
Home — or vacation home — swimming pools are a hazard for very young children (aged 1 to 4). It may be tempting to dive into a magazine or a cocktail while you’re sitting poolside, but if you have young children around, stay focused on them. Amid the chaos of a family beach rental, it only takes a moment of inattention to place a child at risk of drowning.
The CDC recommends designating one adult to watch all children swimming or playing in or around water. Adults should be close enough to reach the child at all times because approximately half of child drownings take place within 25 yards of an adult.
Summer safety tip 2: Know the warning signs of sharks.
Compared to other summer vacation safety threats, shark attacks are extremely unlikely. However, they do happen. Here are a few tips for avoiding sharks:
- Don’t swim at dawn or dusk, or after heavy rains.
- Don’t swim near fishing piers, where sharks may be attracted by bait.
- If you see small fish schooling and jumping out of the water, a shark may be nearby.
- Sharks are attracted to mouths of rivers, channels, deep drops and areas between sandbars.
- Watch for blue or purple flags, which indicate sharks, jellyfish or other dangerous marine life.
Summer safety tip 3: Know your vehicle load limits.
Can’t fit the kids, the beach chairs and all the suitcases in your vehicle? A rooftop carrier makes packing for your summer vacation much easier. But don’t stuff it to the gills. Read the car’s manual first to figure out the dynamic weight limit for the roof rack. It’s probably less than you think; on average, 165 pounds is the max. And remember that adding rooftop cargo raises the center of gravity, which can cause an SUV to sway or become less stable on the road.
Summer safety tip 4: Steer clear of wildlife.
Many wild animals are drawn to campgrounds because they can forage in the trash or snag snacks from tourists. Every year brings news accounts of people being attacked on their summer vacation by animals like bears and bison. Most animal attacks are provoked so never feed or harass wildlife, even if you see other people doing it. And remember that bees, deer, dogs, and cows kill a lot more people than alligators and bears.
Summer safety tip 5: Spray your shoes.
Picking off a few ticks used to be a normal rite of summer vacation. Now it’s cause for alarm, as scientists have discovered more than 14 diseases spread by ticks, including Lyme disease. Ticks are spreading, and reports of disease have shot up. How can you keep your family safe? Spray children’s and adults’ shoes with permethrin and doing daily tick checks.
Summer safety tip 6: Use the teddy-bear system.
No parent ever thinks he or she would leave a child locked in a car. But tragically, children die from heatstroke in hot cars every year, often because a distracted parent simply forgets the child’s in the back seat. To prevent this, keep a teddy bear in the child’s safety seat. When the child’s buckled in, move the teddy to the front seat as a reminder that the back seat is occupied. The same is true for dogs left in cars. Make plans to keep Fido cool if he’s joining you on a road trip.
Summer safety tip 7: Make sure you’re protected in case of medical emergencies.
If your summer travel plans take you on a cruise, out of the country, or to more remote areas of the United States, consider purchasing travel insurance with emergency medical benefits and emergency medical transportation benefits. These benefits can cover your medical care and/or emergency transportation if you experience a covered medical emergency while traveling, protecting you from unexpected (and enormous) medical bills.
Happy traveling this summer and stay safe!