Summer is almost here and that means children will be out of school and nannies will be super busy planning activities to engage, stimulate and educate their charges. For children, summer is a wonderful time to relax, have fun and make memories. However, for a nanny, it can mean more children to care for and an increased the risk of a summertime emergency.
Are you prepared to handle some of the common and not-so-common summertime emergencies? Have you even thought about the additional concerns that summertime can bring?
Summertime usually means more time spent outdoors.
Sun safety is a huge topic of concern and one you should discuss with the parents before the weather gets warm. Make sure you have sufficient sunblock of the type the family prefers. Be sure to apply before going out in the sun and reapply frequently if you are in the sun for extended periods of time. Sunscreen is not recommended for infants under six months of age, so be sure to bring something to keep the child in the shade when outdoors.
Heat is also an issue and small children are at a higher risk for dehydration. Never leave home without a water bottle! Heat-related emergencies, such as heat exhaustion and even heat stroke, are a few conditions to be aware of. Make sure you know the signs to look for and how to treat these conditions.
According to the CDC, symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
- Throbbing headache
- High body temperature
- Slurred speech
Take the following steps to treat someone with heat stroke:
- Call 911 and notify their family.
- Move the child to a cool shaded area.
- Cool the child using methods such as:
- Soaking their clothes with water.
- Spraying, sponging, or showering them with water.
- Fanning their body.
Depending on where you live, extreme summer weather can be unpredictable. In some states, tornados are a real risk. Make sure you know what to do and where to go in event of a tornado. Knowing where you should shelter and having an emergency kit ready are two key elements of being prepared. (For more information about preparing for severe weather, including tornadoes, floods, or thunderstorms & lightning, please visit FEMA’s website.)
With outdoor play comes outdoor creatures. Make sure you are acquainted with any allergies your charges may have to insects, such as bees or fire ants. If so, be sure to ALWAYS carry the child’s epi-pen with you, know how to use it and know what to do AFTER you administer the shot. Besides bees, there are other insects to watch out for, such as mosquitos and ticks. Ask the parents what repellent, if any, they want to you use, and be sure to apply it according to instructions. Brush up on your first-aid knowledge so you know how to recognize and treat any bite or sting.
Kids love sandboxes. They offer an opportunity for great tactile play. Unfortunately, sandboxes are also loved by neighborhood wildlife. This doesn’t have to mean that sandboxes are off-limits, just be sure to wash your charges’ hands after playing in a sandbox and before eating. If your charge is still in the “mouthing everything” stage, you may want to avoid sandboxes for the time being.
The park or playground is an awesome place to spend time in the summer and a few prep tips can keep everyone happy and safe.
Before play begins, be sure to touch all the playground equipment (slides especially) that the children play on, as some may become quite hot in the summer sun causing burns on exposed skin.
Create a plan for when you and your charges get separated (it will invariably happen!). Discuss it with your charges and make sure they understand it, For example, when I take my charges to the park, we pick a meeting place so we all know where to go if we are separated. Older charges are often able to memorize your cell phone number and their parents’ numbers as well. I also make an ID for every young child I care for, that I carry in my pocket when I am with them. I do this so that, in case something happens to me, the first responders will know who the children are and who they need to contact. I have my own ID card as well that includes my emergency contacts.
Parks are also often full of dogs being walked by their owners or others during the daytime hours; keep an eye on your charges when animals are around. Teach them animal safety: do not approach a dog or animal of any kind without first asking the owner if this is okay. Many dogs are okay to pet, however many are also unfamiliar with children and/or fearful of strangers.
Being in or around water is a fun part of summer. I know I have spent my fair share of hours in swimming pools over the years. Being water-wise is so important when you are with your charges. First off, make sure you know CPR and first aid. I cannot stress this enough! You need to know what to do in the event of a water emergency. Be sure to know how to swim. Make sure your charges have taken swimming lessons, never rely on the “arm-floaties” or other inflatables as they are not meant to prevent a child from drowning and often provide a false sense of security. Keep your cell phone near you, but never use it to talk or text while your charges are in the water, you need to keep an eye on them. Also, look for signs of skin irritation from the chlorine, especially with babies who are in the pool for the first time. And remember, reapply sunblock after your charges have been in the water!
Spending the summer with your charges is a lot of fun, and with some advance knowledge and preparedness you can be confident in your ability to handle any emergency situation! Be sure to check with your local American Red Cross or other safety providers to receive formal training on handling a variety of emergency situations.
[author image=”http://sittercycle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Sheri-head-shot-1-11.30.2013.jpg” ]Nanny Sheri In 1987 Nanny Sheri Lopez graduated with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and in 1992 received a B.A. in Business. Over 32 years she has obtained certifications from 52 different programs, including: Certified Nursing Assistant, Certified Nanny Training, Certified Newborn Care Specialist Training, Certified Infant Massage Teacher, Certified Baby Signing Time Instructor, Certified American Red Cross CPR, first aid & AED Instructor, National Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification and she passed the International Nanny Association Basic Skills Exam, as well as the Credentialed Exam.[/author]