Smart summer safety tips


Summer in Michigan is so beautiful. My family and I have been in Mackinac this week and I have enjoyed every second (Even getting caught in the rain!). We are glad to be back in Rochester now.  Since summer can get really busy I wanted to remind everyone of some summertime hazards we should be sure to avoid, especially our little guys and gals.SummerSafety

1. Bugs

Ewww! I hate bugs. Insects bite you, ruin your picnic, and cause all sorts of problems. Make sure you have some sort of protection to avoid stings and bites. You can teach your children to leave bugs alone, especially when they see a bee or another insect that sting. They can come tell you or just leave the area. When landscaping, keep in mind certain flowers attract bees and try to avoid bringing them into your yard. As far as mosquitoes go, they are mostly out at dawn and dusk so try avoiding the outside during those times. Also stay away from standing water, where mosquitoes tend to congregate. We’re trying a natural approach to pest repellent this summer by using lemon and lavender essential oils. Try one of these recipes.

Ticks have also been a problem this summer. Avoid wooded areas and wear light colored clothing so that you can easily spot if a tick has jumped on you. Safely remove it with tweezers, but don’t jerk or twist the tick. Keep an eye out for a rash or fever for the next several weeks. If you develop either call your doctor immediately. Also be sure to check your pets as they can bring a tick into your home after being outside.

2. Poisonous Plants

One summer, right before 9th grade, I had the weirdest feeling on my face. It was sort of sticky and red. I kept wiping it with a tissue and wondering what was going on. The next morning when my mom pulled the covers off my head to wake me up, she quickly covered my head up and called my dad into the room. I wasn’t feeling too good either. My dad came in and said, “I think we should go to the doctor.” So, feeling a little alarmed, I got out of bed to get dressed and mistakenly looked in the mirror. I looked pretty weird; sort of like a lion. My face was super swollen, red and really shiny. Well, lo and behold, it was poison ivy. The sticky stuff from the night before was urushiol oil from a poison ivy plant that I was spreading all over my face. It wasn’t pretty.

Avoid summertime itch by avoiding plants such as poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. Teach your children how to identify these plants so they can avoid them as well. Here is a great website that I use to identify possibly poisonous plants: I reference it often because I do not want to relive “the summer of the lion” ever again!

Beware of giant Hogweed.

Beware of giant Hogweed.

There is also a new poisonous weed in Michigan that is extremely dangerous. It is called Giant Hogweed and can cause a skin rash as well as blindness. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, children are drawn to this plant because of its size and stems, which can be fun to play with. It is an extremely large plant with large clusters of white flowers.

Survey your yard to make sure none of these poisonous plants are growing before sending your little ones out to play. Teach children never to eat anything they find outside, at least not without showing you first.

3. Sunburn

Sunburn can be so sneaky because you can be exposed to the sun’s rays even on cloudy days. We try not to overdo sunscreen in my family and instead try to wear hats as well as other protective clothing. The kids wear long-sleeve swimming shirts and longer swimming suit bottoms to provide more natural skin protection than sunscreen. There has been a lot of controversy lately over the safety of sunscreen so be sure to check your favorite brand at Some sunscreens are so filled with chemicals they may be doing more harm than good. Either way you look at it, avoid sunburn in whatever way you can.

4. Dehydration

Children often become dehydrated faster than adults due to their small size, active nature, and ability to be easily distracted. Sometimes they just don’t even notice they’re thirsty because they’re just having too much fun playing! Have water available at all times and try to keep track of how much liquid your child has consumed. Every morning I get three different cups ready for my son: One of juice, one of milk and one of water. This way it’s easy for me to know how much liquid he’s drank just by looking into the refrigerator.

5. Hot Car

I know every parent thinks they would never do that, but it happens all to often and usually with tragic results. I’m not talking about leaving your child in the car while you run back into the house to make sure you’ve turned the oven off. I’m talking about a parent who doesn’t normally transport a child and leaving the child (typically an infant who can’t speak, but sometimes a sleeping child) in a hot car for hours. Get into the habit of placing your child’s bag or some other item of theirs in the front passenger seat. This serves as a good visual reminder to a busy parent that they need to take the child to daycare or school that day. You can also keep your briefcase, jacket, purse, etc in the backseat so that you’ll always have to go into the back to retrieve your items. This way, you will see your child before a terrible mishap occurs.

6. Drowning

With all of our beautiful water here in Michigan we are always serious about water safety around lakes and pools. But don’t forget it doesn’t take much for a young child to drown. Never leave a child around water Summer_Safety_for_Kidsunsupervised. I recently read this article about how drowning doesn’t always look like what we think it should. We’re used to ‘movie drowning’ that is very different from what real drowning looks like. Swim lessons are another way to help prevent drowning, but make sure it doesn’t make you over-confident as a parent, resulting in you paying less attention to your swimming child. Teach your children to stay away from water unless they are with a parent or other trusted adult.

Enjoy your time this summer. Get outside and run and play with your kids! Give them a few of these tools in their toolbox to help keep them safe. Knowledge is power and it’s important to share these safety tips with your kids.

About Meghan Zeile

Mom-in-the-know and local writer for Rochester Media. Always looking for tips with kids, family life, and fun local adventures. Contact at

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