Child Safety Over The Summer Holidays


The Law Of… Having Fun But Staying Safe

The summer holidays are fast approaching for many school children and the summer holds great opportunity to get out and about. With increased freedom comes a larger risk for young people exploring the great outdoors.  

Our Melanie Burden, head of Personal Injury, discusses some of the prevalent dangers you and your child could face over the holidays.

Protection From The Sun

Children's skin is thinner and more delicate than adult skin and so they have less protection against sun damage. Sunburn in childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer by up to 50%.The sun is at its hottest (and therefore most dangerous) between the hours of 10am and 3pm. Your child should avoid being in direct sunlight during these hours. If this can't be helped, it is incredibly important to cover up as much of their skin with long sleeves, a hat and sunglasses. Sunscreen lotion of SPF 30 or higher should be applied around half an hour before exposure to the sun and should be reapplied at least every 2 hours.

Heat Exhaustion And Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are possible in the summer as temperatures begin to rise. They are a particular concern when temperatures rise around 33°C, but caution should be taken when children have spent long periods of time in any high level of heat.

If heat exhaustion is not addressed, it is possible then to have a heat stroke which is significantly more dangerous.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • Excessive sweating and pale clammy skin
  • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • Fast breathing/pulse
  • Intense thirst

If your child is demonstrating symptoms of heat exhaustion, it is important to act quickly to avoid heat stroke. Get your child to a cool place and get them to drink plenty of water. You can also cool their skin with a sponge filled with cool water and a fan. Check their breathing and pulse every few minutes.

If your child does not cool down and feel better within 30 minutes, call 999. There are other symptoms that could present themselves that demonstrate your child is likely to be having a heat stroke.

Call 999 and put them into the recovery position immediately if your child:

  • Is no better after 30 minutes
  • Feels hot and dry
  • Has a temperature of 40°C or more
  • Has rapid or shortness of breath
  • Is confused
  • Has a fit
  • Loses consciousness
  • Is unresponsive

Open-Water Danger

Sadly, open water swimming accidents have risen as temperatures have begun to soar in the UK. It is legal to swim in most tidal waters, unless otherwise stated by signs near to the body of water. Swimming is not allowed in most reservoirs.

Typically, more children drown in bodies of water found inland, for example, rivers, ponds and quarries. One of the best prevention methods for drowning is to teach your child to swim. If you do go to the beach, do not let your child swim in the sea unless there are lifeguards present.

It is important to teach older children to choose safe places to swim such as public pools rather than places that are not patrolled by lifeguards. Strong currents and large objects can pose serious issues for any swimmer in open-water.

Food Poisoning

Make sure to carry anti-bacterial hand gel with you wherever you go where food is involved, as it isn’t always possible to wash your hands when you're out and about.

If you have bought a product that has given your child food poisoning, or food provided by a hotel you and your family are staying in has caused sickness and diarrhoea, it is important to seek medical advice.

If you are in the UK, call 111 for medical advice and if you are abroad, it is best to contact either your hotel rep or hotelier. It is key to seek professional advice as soon as possible as this could minimise the amount of time you or your child is affected by the food poisoning.

Road Traffic Safety

In 2015, a total of 1,732 people were killed in reported road traffic accidents in the UK and of these, 409 were pedestrians. The number of reported road traffic accidents involving children where a child was hurt was 16,101.

The majority of child deaths associated with road traffic accidents tend to be pedestrian with a much smaller number being pedal cyclists. Whilst the amount of children being killed because of road traffic accidents is falling in the UK, it is important to be vigilant against such risks.

Encouraging your child to be more aware of their surroundings could go a long way to reducing the risk. It is important to set an example for your children from a young age by demonstrating how to be attentive when crossing the road. This will encourage safety awareness and allow for independence as they get older.

Melanie Burden comments:

"The summer is a really great time to encourage children to venture into the great outdoors and it's important not to be put off doing this because of potential dangers. Accidents of this sort are rare. But it is important to be aware of issues that could arise"

"It is vital to teach children how to deal with hazards in the great outdoors, rather than put them off venturing out because of the possible risks"

"If your child has had an accident that was because of another's negligence, it is important to treat a claim in the same way you would an adult. Compensation claims can make a real difference to recovery."

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