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How to plan a safe summer for you and your family

| Safety | Healthy You

Daughter kisses mom's cheek at beach

Keep these important points handy to stay safe this summer.

For you, summer might be a time to loosen up and relax. The light lasts longer. The kids are out of school. Maybe vacation days lie ahead.

Whatever you like about the season, here are a few simple reminders to keep yourself and your family safe.

Water safety

As you head to the pool, lake, beach, river or boat, teach your children about water safety.

Unless they are strong swimmers, keep them within arm's length, even in shallow water. Drowning is a real risk. It remains the leading cause of accidental death for children under four years in the U.S. and the second leading cause for those 5-14 years of age.

If you and the kids will be out on a boat, wear a life jacket. (Watch this video on choosing a life jacket.) Bring a fully charged phone and sunscreen. Leave your "float plan" behind with a friend. That way, someone who's not going with you will know where you're heading and when to expect you back.

Use "layers" of protection for water safety, such as learning to swim, covering the pool and having a "water watcher."

Sun safety

Soaking in warm rays of sunshine is part of what many of us love about summer. Still, there are links between being in the sun and cancer, skin damage and other health issues.

Your first line of defense is sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 (30 is even better). Apply more every two hours or after being in the water.

Sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can also protect you from UV rays.

If someone is sunburned, treat it with aloe vera. Over-the-counter pain medication can also provide relief. Just follow the directions on the label. Or contact your doctor's office for health.

Review these ABCDEs of protecting your skin.

Heat safety

Heat stroke can be a concern, especially when temperatures rise and people are active. It can be serious--even life-threatening.

If your body gets too hot, it can't cool itself down. One way to avoid heat stroke is to stay hydrated. Carry water or other non-sugary drinks whenever you're out in the heat so you can stay hydrated.

Watch for signs of heat stroke:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you're with someone who is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Move them to a shaded area, help them drink water and keep them as cool as possible until help arrives.

List of tips to stay safe in the summer

Firework safety

Fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate. However, they can cause injuries and fires. They can also be a big issue for pets and people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you or others plan to use fireworks, do so as safely as possible:

  • Never light or hold lit fireworks in your hand.
  • Never allow children to play with fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully douse any remaining flame.

Or sit back and let the pros handle the firework show.

Bug safety

Ticks, mosquitoes, wasps, yellow jackets and other insects can cause serious illness or severe allergic reactions. 

Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:

  • Apply insect repellent to keep mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs away.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and closed-toe shoes when hiking.
  • Check everyone for ticks after you've spent time in grassy or woody areas.
  • Avoid using perfume or other scents that may attract bees.

Check local resources for recommendations in: Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

More safety for kids


Look at the condition of the equipment. Check the mulch under the structure for rocks or other things that might be a danger. Read more on playground safety.

Cycling and scooters

Have your child try on their helmet to see that it still fits. Make it a rule to always wear a helmet when cycling or scooting. Watch this video on fitting a helmet.

Hot cars

Never leave kids or animals in an unattended car in the sun. Being in a hot vehicle can lead to heat stroke and, in some cases, death.

Health safety for everyone

First-aid kit

Take stock of your supplies. Do you need to refill or replace anything? Print this helpful first-aid supply kit list.

Summer check-up

If you plan to be away, consider seeing your primary care provider before you go. You can travel with peace of mind when your vaccinations, medication refills and other healthcare needs are met before you leave. Schedule an appointment.

My PeaceHealth

If you haven't already, sign up for My PeaceHealth, our online patient portal. That way, if something comes up when you're out of town, you can easily reach out to your PCP office. Read five things you can do using My PeaceHealth.

Print this summer safety checklist handout. Use it to talk to your kids about summer rules. And share it with others who might be involved in your summer plans.