Summertime is, for many of us, our favourite season - a time where we can make the most of the outdoors and the longer daylight hours. However, it’s also a time where you need to be extra-vigilant as summertime presents its own challenges.
As summer approaches, it is really important that parents and children protect themselves from NZ’s very high UV radiation levels. There is strong evidence that too much sun exposure during childhood and adolescence is a risk factor for developing skin cancer later in life. Skin cancer can be prevented in most cases, but effective sun protection needs to begin early on.
The Cancer Society recommends people cover up and protect themselves from the sun between the peak sunlight hours of 11am and 4pm during the daylight saving months.
Staying properly hydrated throughout the hot summer days is vital, particularly for children (and babies) as they are much more prone to dehydration than adults because their bodies don’t cool down as efficiently. Offer them frequent drinks of water (in the shade if possible), even as often as every 15 minutes if your children are playing a sport or racing around.
To prevent your child from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, limit outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, keep them out of direct sunlight or crowds when it’s hot outside, make your child rest often in a cool area, and dress them in light-coloured, lightweight and loose clothing.
Our way of life means we try to take advantage of all opportunities to enjoy NZ’s many outdoor water environments. But without the core life kill of swimming, New Zealanders do not possess the most fundamental skill to use and enjoy the water safely. Professional water confidence and swimming lessons are great and all parents who can enrol their child in a swim school should be encouraged to do so. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure you provide opportunities for your child to develop the core-life skill of learning to swim.
Children love water, but you can never be too cautious when it comes to their safety. So, it is our responsibility to ensure their safety in, on or around water. This is done through close, active adult supervision of children and identifying potential hazards, then minimising or eliminating them. Active supervision means being within sight and reach of children without distractions – not reading, talking on the cellphone or sunbathing. When at a beach, don’t over-estimate your child’s ability to cope in the open water environment and remember, lifeguards are not babysitters.
The home pool is the highest risk area for older preschoolers:
- Know your responsibility around pool fencing, this includes the new and popular inflatable pools
- Remove the temptation by keeping toys and fun things out of the pool
- Be aware of any home pools, including inflatable pools and spas in your neighbourhood, where your children may play or gain access
When out on boats, kayaks and other water craft, you must always wear a lifejacket and ensure that your children are also wearing a correctly fitting lifejacket (not an adult one, they will just slip out of it). Also ensure that the water craft you are in is fully equipped for any emergencies, with a working radio and flares, and that you check the weather conditions before you set out.
Some good rules of thumb for water safety are:
- Learn infant and child CPR.
- Create safe water play rules with your children, including staying away from water unless they have an adult with them.
- Children learn from adult behaviour. Be a good role model and exhibit safe behaviours – wear your lifejacket on the boat, swim between the flags, never drink alcohol when on or around the water.
Whether travelling far or just nipping out and about locally, car safety should stay top of mind for parents these holidays and they should ensure that every child is in a “safe seat” for every journey. Plunket reminds parents that all children up to 148cm in height need to be in the correct size car seat or booster seat and that the restraint needs to be correctly installed to be effective.
In the heat of summer, the inside of cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures in minutes. Although it may be tempting to nip in somewhere and leave the kids in their carseats, you must never do this as babies and children can quickly overheat in a hot car, even with the windows down.
Driveways are another danger area for children, and parents need to be extra vigilant and should know where children are at all times. Just checking mirrors is not enough - even small children can move very fast - so get out of your car and double check behind you before slowly backing down the driveway.
General road safety is also another issue to be wary of. Ensure your children don’t play too close to the roadside or ride their bikes on the road. Emphasise that if a ball goes out into the road, they are to watch where it goes but never follow it without getting an adult first. Wearing a bike helmet is non-negotiable, and knee and elbow pads are advisable for skateboarders and roller-bladers.
New Zealanders love the great outdoors and many a fine summer’s day is spent tramping (or, in the case of most young families, wandering) through our stunning native bush. Plan, prepare and equip yourself properly though, and be realistic about the capabilities of your family/group. Don’t forget that you can’t light fires when tramping, hunting or walking. You can use established barbecues at campgrounds, but otherwise use only camping cookers/burners and stay with them while lit.
Ruby, our two year old daughter, has a skin condition called ichthyosis, which means her skin struggles to create its own oil. To further complicate the situation, Ruby also suffers from eczema which makes her skin very sensitive and prone to being itchy.
Dust mites are the main culprit and although we oil her skin a number of times a day, if she comes into contact with anything like carpet, her skin becomes inflamed and she starts scratching it. When Ruby was one, her skin became so inflamed we admitted her to hospital where she was given an intensive treatment of steroids and wet bandages. Since then, we have done everything in our power to minimise the environmental effects (such as dust mites) to improve her condition. Ruby is unable to play on the grass, on carpet or in sandpits.
We once enrolled her in swimming lessons and although we covered her in Vaseline prior to entering the water, within minutes of going in she was taken out in tears and her sensitive skin was red raw.
We have been in our new house for over a year and our in-ground pool had remained a cement shell as we didn’t see the point of having a pool knowing Ruby would be unable to go in. Then I heard about a pool system using the mineral magnesium and after some research we decided to finish the pool. MagnaPool water is naturally mineral based, as opposed to heavily chlorine or salt water pools that can leave your hair, skin and eyes feeling unpleasantly dry and irritated. The unique MagnaPool mineral blend is not only therapeutic for your skin and body, but can also assist in minimising bacteria in your pool; so the demand for chemicals is far less.
I am very happy to report we’ve had our new MagnaPool for over 6 months, and Ruby is in the water three times a day for up to two hours at a time and absolutely loves it. No creams and no rinsing off after swimming is needed as the minerals are extremely nourishing to her skin; we just towel her off and she is off to play. Zero side effects or irritations, in fact it seems to be helping her condition and reducing the amount of oil we have to use. This would be impossible in a salt water pool or a pool with excessive levels of chlorine disinfection by-products.
This has brought an enormous amount of joy to the whole family. We rave about the pool to everyone, as this mineral water for our pool has changed our lives, not only making it possible for Ruby to play like a normal kid, but also a relief to know our little girl can now learn to swim.
Thank you MagnaPool, you have a fantastic product!
To watch a video of Ruby’s story please visit magnapool.com and click on: MagnaPool Stories
To convert your existing pool or if you are building a new pool contact:
0508 624 627
MagnaPool mineral water moisturises her skin.
- Drowning is silent and fast
- A small child can drown in as little as 40mm of water
- Following submersion, a child can lose consciousness after 90-120 seconds
Sadly, most preschool drownings occur in the home environment and typically involve:
- Children left unsupervised in the bath, either on their own or with an older sibling
- Children falling in to home pools, spa pools, paddling pools
- Children falling in to buckets or shallow water containers while unsupervised
- Children left under the supervision of a sibling