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Oh, the good ole summertime... and the kids are out of school. It's time for going off to the beach, having back yard cookouts and plenty of outdoor summer fun. It's also time for parents to think about ways to keep their children safe through the summer. Danger lurks everywhere for children. It is our responsibility as parents to protect our children from any harm. Be alert and be smart.

But don't be fooled into thinking that only small children can accidentally drown. Older children and adults become victims also from various causes, including drinking or boating accidents. Always put a life jacket on children when in a boat, or if around water and drinking. Also many individuals, including children, become victims because they do not understand how to deal with an undertow when swimming in the ocean. In most cases, people never swam in the ocean and didn't realize they or their children can be dragged away from the shore by an undertow.

Summertime also means children are outside playing and bike riding. Do your children have and wear helmets? Do they know and understand the rules of the road? Check on your child's helmet on a regular basis for cracks and proper fit. Children have a tendency to adjust the helmet straps and not wear the helmet properly placed on their heads.

Will your child be outside playing most of the day? Check on children, even when in a fenced yard. They can get out, if an older sibling forgets to lock a gate. I have seen a toddler walking in a busy alleyway after she got out of her backyard. Thank heaven, several people jumped out to grab her and stop traffic. My toddler niece had escaped from her backyard three times. If someone finds your child and calls the police, I guarantee child protection services will be out to investigate you. Don't be angry with them for doing their job. Be grateful that your child didn't get into the wrong hands or seriously injured in some way.

Warn your children not to talk to strangers or open the door. Even the older children left home alone need to be reminded. Remember the slogan, Danger Stranger. It's always better to keep a watchful eye on your children whether at home or out in public. I never let my children go alone to a public facility, especially in a park or in the woods. I stand guard right at the door. If my son doesn't come out in short order, I give a yell in the door. No answer, I go right in. Older boys learn not to dawdle, so mom isn't waltzing into the men's room. This is relatively easy for a mother to get away with. Dads are better off to ask a woman going into a facility to check up on a young daughter. When in doubt, always check it out. It's better to err on the side of caution. Teach your children to keep themselves safe.

Besides watching small children around swimming pools, beware of lakes, creeks and ponds in parks. Don't depend on older children to keep an eye on the young children. If you are preoccupied with cooking or setting up food, toddlers are better off confined to a playpen or buckled safely into a child seat.

Some other things to beware of on outings are:

a) Look out for bees, wasp or hornet nests and anthills. Multiple bites to a small child can be dangerous, even deadly.

b) Keep infants out of the direct sun. They can burn easily and get sun poisoning. Children with a fair complexion should wear hats. All children should use sunscreen.

c) Make sure that all age level children have plenty of fluids on hot days to avoid heat stroke. They get occupied with playing and don't think about taking in fluids until they are dehydrated.

d) Always keep children away from hot barbecue grills. Little ones just don't understand that it is hot, even if they understand about the stove at home. Don't allow kids to play anywhere near it. They could accidentally run into it playing ball or Frisbee. It could result in a severe burn.

e) And... there is absolutely no excuse to leaving a small child asleep on a hot day in a car, even with the windows slightly cracked. They can die or suffer brain damage from the heat.

Never give young children the benefit of the doubt, to know better. It doesn't matter if you think your child is well advanced for their age level. Children are children... when they are having fun they do not stop and think if something is safe. They see actors and cartoon characters taking risks everyday on television and in movies and believe anything is possible to do.

It upsets me when I see a small child at risk to injury and the mother stupidly sits there saying he knows better not to do something. I usually make a comment. If the parent still doesn't take control of the child, I glare at them until they are uncomfortable enough to get up and do something. If that doesn't work, I get up and pick the child up myself. It takes but a few seconds for that child to make a wrong move and that parent won't be able to prevent the child from getting hurt. I'll never forget the day I saved a neighbor's baby from falling between the railings of a basement stairwell. Children don't have the common sense to rationalize every new situation. Examples are that the hot barbecue grill is not the stove at home. Or the pond in the park is not Grandma's off limits swimming pool. Protect your children.

Parents, please if you take your small children out near water and you are drinking alcohol, at least have the common sense to put a life vest on them. It may save their lives if you are not really paying attention to them and they fall into the water.

Remember:

1. Practice safety around water.

2. Be cautious in the sun and heat.

3. Use safety around grills and cooking.

4. Teach bicycle safety and helmet use.

5. Warn the danger of strangers.

6. Have safety latches on yard fences.

7. Never leave children asleep in a hot car.

8. Make sure kids are buckled up in the car even for short trips.

9. When carrying things into the house from the car after an outing, check to be sure a child didn't climb into the trunk before closing it.

10. Watch out for insects especially around infants.

11. Warn children of the dangers of lightning, and not to stand under trees.