Take Safety Into Spring and Summer in the Texas Outdoors

These happy youngsters are having a big time catching small fish out of San Luis Pass.

Spring is in full swing, and the weather as well as the outdoor activities is heating up.

Childhood memories are filled with fun outdoor activities like trips to the coast, fishing on the lake, and camping. As you and your children enjoy our Texas wilderness, remember that a few simple, common sense precautions will prevent accidents and injuries.

Unintentional childhood injury remains the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. According to the National SAFE KIDS campaign, nearly 6,300 children died from unintentional injuries in 1996. Each year, 14 million children, or one out of every four, are injured seriously enough to seek medical attention. The SAFE KIDS campaign estimates that simple precautions can avoid as many as 90% of these unintentional injuries.

Our Texas wilderness is abundant with opportunities for accidents and unintentional injuries. Close supervision, proper protective equipment, and other simple prevention measures will help your child avoid danger and injuries.

Drowning is the greatest risk for children under 14. It is the second most common killer of teenagers. Always supervise young children near water, including lakes, ponds, tanks, creeks, rivers and streams. Know the depth before diving into any water. Insist that children wear personal flotation devices when they are out on a boat, near bodies of water, or are participating in water activities. Remember, the law requires that all children under 13 in motorboats under 26’ in length must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device while the boat is underway.

Burns are among the most common of childhood accidental injuries. These typically include sunburns, burns from stoves, camp lamps, matches, wood stoves, and hot liquids. All children should use sunscreen and protective clothing like caps with visors and long sleeves while spending time outdoors. Adults have to supervise young children near campfires and while cooking outdoors. Having spent most of my life in the outdoors, I have used lots of different sunscreens. The very best product I have found for protection from the sun is a fairly new product called “Smart Shield.” It is now available at most stores.

Bites and stings from insects, including spiders, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, and bees are common in children. Make sure to keep as much of a child’s skin covered with clothing as possible, including a long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, and a hat. Have children wear light colored clothing, which does not attract bugs. Use an insect repellant regularly.

Commonly used repellants that are usually safe for children include those with less than 10% DEET or others with citronella or soybean oil.

According to the SAFE KIDS Campaign, an estimated 1,500 children under 14 are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional firearms-related injuries. The safe storage of firearms (unloaded, up, and away from children) is an essential step in protecting our children.
Strains and sprains are common in children because their bones and muscles are still developing.
Adults should select children’s shoes that are appropriate for the terrain like hiking boots, tennis shoes with ankle supports, beach footwear, etc. Children should wear retro*reflective materials and carry a flashlight when it is dark, at dawn or at dusk.

Teach your children the rules of the road and practice obeying traffic laws with them. Never let children under the age of 10 cross a street alone.

Teach children to obey traffic rules as a pedestrian. As adults, we can be excellent role models.

Notify others of your travel plans, including the date and time of your expected return. Know how to contact emergency medical services. Every wise outdoorsman carries a basic first aid kit at all times. Every parent should be knowledgeable in CPR and basic first aid.

Family trips into the Texas wilderness, campgrounds, beaches, and state parks are a great way to spend a weekend or a family vacation for having fun, relaxing, and learning about our natural resources. Following these common sense safety tips will insure that you and your children’s happy memories this spring and summer will also be safe ones. Let’s keep safety our top priority, and the fun will follow.