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Photo of Senator Cathy Osten.

STATE SENATOR

Cathy Osten

Getting Results

Summer Safety Tips

Now that school’s out, parents and students from kindergarten through high school should step-up their safety protocols to deal with a variety of summer-specific challenges.

Summer
  • There’s an old saying that “A bouncing ball is usually followed by a child.” Watch for balls and toys that appear suddenly in the roadway – a child may quickly chase after them without checking both ways for traffic. To help protect your kids who are playing in the driveway, you may want to park your car on the street across the bottom of your driveway, or place bright orange traffic cones near your driveway to alert oncoming drivers to the presence of children playing.
  • Don’t allow your children to walk or cross streets while distracted by a cell phone or listening to music through headphones. Having a phone out or listening to music drastically lowers your sense of awareness, so turn off the music or pause the phone conversation while crossing the street to make sure you and/or your child is properly keeping an eye (and an ear!) out for cars.
  • Also watch out for vehicles backing out of a driveway or in a shopping mall parking lot. It’s difficult for drivers to see directly behind them, even with today’s back-up cameras, so watch for the white back-up lights on cars and steer yourself clear.
  • Of course summer is also a time for heat-related illnesses. Be sure to take extra breaks if you are working or playing outdoors, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Mosquitoes can cause a number of illnesses, including the Zika and West Nile viruses. There are 176 species of mosquito in the United States, and the two most comment bite humans during the day (especially mid-day when the sun is at its peak) and the early evening hours. Use insect repellant if you are going to be outside for extended periods of time or are engaging in sunset activities, such as a picnic or sporting event.
  • Ticks are also a problem, especially here in Connecticut where they can carry Lyme Disease. To fight ticks, especially in wooded environments, consider wearing light-colored long pants, long-sleeve shirts and closed-toe shoes to prevent ticks from biting the skin (light-colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot and pick off.) Keep your grass cut short, check pets for ticks (they can bring them inside your house!), and try using a bug spray containing at least 20% DEET.
  • Be sure to wear a helmet while bicycling or skateboarding! In 2015, more than125,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms after being injured while skateboarding. Serious injuries like traumatic brain injuries can occur without a helmet – that’s why I was the lead sponsor this year of a new state law called ‘Conor’s Law’ that requires all children under 15 years old to wear helmets while riding a skate board, while roller-skating or inline skating. I introduced the bill with Holly Irwin of Ledyard in memory of her son Conor, an accomplished student-athlete who died at the age of 14 following an accidental fall from his skateboard.
  • Playgrounds are a popular summer recreation destination, but be sure to monitor your children’s activities. Look for a playground with several inches of soft rubber compost or wood chips to soften the blow from a fall from the money bars or the slide.
  • For parents of driving-age teens, the time from Memorial Day to Labor Day is sometimes known as “the 100 deadliest days.” Drunken driving increases during the summer months, and teen driving accidents increase, too. The vast majority of young people who die in alcohol-related crashes are killed on Friday and Saturday evenings. Even if youths themselves are not drinking and driving, they are more likely to be killed because of adults who have been drinking and driving on weekend evenings. Parents may want to limit their teen’s late-night and weekend driving hours.

Summertime is a wonderful time for relaxing, making memories, and for family vacations. Just be sure to keep yourself and your children safe!