With summer just around the corner, people are gearing up for the beautiful weather and excitedly planning their vacations. California is one of the most popular states for residents and tourists both to flock to the beaches and take advantage of summer break in all the many forms that are offered here. While there are many incredible things to do during this refreshing season, it’s important to remember that there are also a lot of potential dangers that go hand-in-hand with the fun, especially for children.
Accidents happen, for sure. But as personal injury attorneys, we at Hershey Law see more than our fair share of tragedies that could have been avoided if someone involved had been more alert to the danger or aware of safety tips that would have made an impact.
Before you head out for your fun activities this summer, take a few minutes to review these basic safety reminders, taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the American Red Cross. You never know when a little bit of prevention and knowledge might save a life.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Whether you are a seasoned swimmer, or you are in charge of young children in your care, you need to take safety precautions to keep yourself and others protected. These rules are not just for water, though.
The California heat can be dangerous all by itself. It’s easy to become dehydrated during a distracted day of play or end up with heat stroke from being outside too long. Second and third-degree burns are also a common danger.
Avoid making basic, harmful mistakes by remembering the following ten safety tips:
- Always stay hydrated. The human body is made up of up to 60% water at any given time, and when you don’t drink enough of this liquid, parts of your body will start to feel the effect that comes with dehydration. On hot days when you are sweating more, this effect happens even faster. It’s recommended that you drink two to four glasses, or 16-32 ounces, of water an hour. You can drink other cool liquids instead, but water has the best preventative effect. Of course, if you have a physical condition that limits your fluid intake, you should ask your doctor how much water you should have if you plan on being in the heat. Remember that your child will be too busy playing to remember to stay hydrated, but lack of hydration can cause serious illnesses and it is your duty to keep your children safe.
- Don’t leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle. Even with the windows cracked, temperatures on a mild to moderate California day can make the air in a vehicle become dangerously humid. There have been way too many instances where a parent or other adult walks away from their car, distracted, and forgets the quiet child inside or leaves their pet in the vehicle to run “quick” errands. Sadly, these often end up in tragic circumstances. Similarly, don’t leave your car unlocked, either. These unlocked vehicles are tempting to children who many be able to climb into them but not get out. Call 911 immediately if you see a child alone in a vehicle and try to help them get out if possible. Waiting until emergency responders arrive may be too late.
- Always supervise your children when they are playing outside. If your child is riding their bicycle, scooter, etc., be sure they wear helmets. Teach them the rules of road safety and always supervise them. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye and seconds can be the difference between recovery and serious injuries. With the drastic increase in distracted driving over the last decade, you can’t trust that the oncoming car will stay in their lane or see your child in time to move out of the way. It’s up to you to teach your children proper bicycle and pedestrian safety rules and to be there to ensure they are following them.
- Use proper motor vehicle safety guidelines. Anyone in the front seats should always wear their seatbelt, and children should wear theirs wherever they sit in the vehicle. Per California State Law, “Children must be seated in the rear seat of a vehicle in an appropriate car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9″ tall. Children must remain in a rear facing car seat until they weigh 40 pounds or more or are at least 40 inches tall.” As these laws do change, you should always check in to make sure you are following the most up-to-date policies.
- Never swim alone and never let children swim unsupervised. Water safety rules are crucial. You may be an expert swimmer, but if you are in distress and you are alone, there is no one to help you. Children who are learning how to swim should never be allowed to be near water without supervision. A responsible adult should always be within reaching distance of a child near or in any type of water. Even two inches of water is enough for a small child to drown.
- Keep your pool secured. If you have your own pool, be sure it is fenced in so that young children can’t access it. Even if you don’t have your own kids, others in your neighborhood might be tempted by the cool, clear water on a hot summer day, so keep that temptation to a minimum by securing your pool. You can still be held liable for injuries that happen to a person in your pool, uninvited or not.
- Only swim in areas designated for public use or with a lifeguard on duty. Not every body of water is safe to swim in, no matter how refreshing and calm it looks. California currents are known to be lethal and swift. If you are heading to the beach, be sure to use on that is clearly marked for public use, and preferably one that has a lifeguard on duty. Supervise your children yourself, even if there is a lifeguard. Lifeguards are trained in CPR, but it’s always a good idea to have this training yourself, too. This is simple to do in most areas. You can find a CPR and first-aid course online or in-person, and many hospitals or community centers offer these programs free of charge or can guide you in the right direction.
- Watch the weather forecast. Heading to the beach or the pool? Check the weather first. Severe weather conditions can come through quickly and lightning can strike as far away as ten miles. If the weather looks iffy, you might want to find another activity for the day.
- Follow watercraft rules if you go out on a boat or other aquatic vehicle. California rules specify that a Coast Guard personal flotation device for every person on board the vehicle must be available. Children under 12 years of age must be wearing a life jacket that fits securely and properly. No one under the age of 16 can operate the boat by themselves, and those from 12-15 years of age can operate the boat under supervision of an adult 18 years or older.
- Don’t forget the sunblock! Sun poisoning is common in California over the summer. Sunburns aren’t a nuisance. They can become dangerous and deadly if you are not careful. Sunburns can happen in as little as 15 minutes outside, and severe sunburns occur if you stay in the sun for a prolonged period of time without protection. Those with light skin and fair hair are prone to burning easier. Children are especially susceptible to sunburn. Be sure to apply a sufficient amount of sunblock. Dermatologists recommend a broad-spectrum protection that is water resistant and has an SPF of 30 or higher. Regularly reapply throughout the day as sunblock only works for short periods and exposure to sand and water increase the need for protection since the sun’s rays reflect off of them. Let the sunblock dry at least 15 minutes before exposure to the sun.
Enjoy Your Summer, but Play it Safe
These 10 safety precautions can save the life of you or someone you love. They can also mean the difference between moving on with your life and being charged with neglect. While these are basic safety guidelines, they are also things that are expected with a reasonable duty of care.
Too often, personal injuries arise due to someone’s neglect of a duty of care they were expected to provide. If your summer was cruelly interrupted because of the negligence of another person that caused you or a loved one a personal injury, we at Hershey Law are here to help you.
Let us do the hard work so you can focus on recovering and moving forward with this new season of your life. Contact the professionals at Hershey Law for your free consultation.