Keeping Your Kids Safe at Your Next Backyard Summer Soiree


Pool parties, backyard barbecues and other outdoor gatherings are a summer staple for most families. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and relaxation of the season, and if we’re not careful, all that excitement can be hazardous to our children.

Following are a few simple tips that can help parents keep their children safe from dog days dangers hiding in unexpected places.

Bon fires

As a pediatric emergency medicine physician, Kelly Levasseur, D.O., has seen her share of summer injuries. A huge culprit is bonfire pits.

“It’s so important to remind children to not run around the fire,” Dr. Levasseur said. “They can trip, fall into the fire and get a severe burn right away.”

And the danger doesn’t end once the fire is out. Ashes and surrounding areas can remain hot, even the next day. “I’ve seen kids who were running around in their bare feet step on ashes the next day and get second- and third-degree burns.”

Also, anyone who has a reactive airway disease such as asthma should be careful around the smoke and carry an inhaler.

Outdoor toys

Playing outside is a great way for kids to get the exercise and fresh air they need to stay healthy, but some common outdoor toys need extra precaution.

When it comes to trampolines, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend having them in yards, even with the netting.

“I always have concerns about trampolines,” Dr. Levasseur said. “If you do have one, make sure there’s only one child on it at a time. I see a lot of injuries where one child falls onto the other and breaks an arm, falls off or bonks heads.”

If your child prefers wheels instead of bouncing, bikes, scooters and skateboards can be a lot of fun. “But riders should wear closed-toe shoes,” Dr. Levasseur said. “I’ve seen a lot of toe and toe nail injuries, so pass on the flip flops when riding around.”


According to Dr. Levasseur, the majority of the drowning incidents she sees happen at parties. “It happens when no one is watching a particular child,” she said. “It’s not safety in numbers - if your child doesn’t swim well or there’s little supervision, put a life jacket on them. It could save their life,” Dr. Levasseur urged.

Additionally, make sure there’s a fence or barrier around the pool, so young children can’t get in unsupervised. Other devices such as pool alarms can alert you if someone does fall in. A small child can drown in an inch of water because that’s all it takes to cover their nose and mouth.

While drowning is a legitimate concern, dry drowning is not. “Many people ask about dry drowning, but it’s not really a thing,” Dr. Levasseur explained. “If a child has a choking episode while swimming and they’re coughing or gasping, watch them for a little bit. In the next day or two, if they breathe a little faster with fever, get an evaluation.”


Finally, Dr. Levasseur warns to be careful around landscaping tools, especially riding lawn mowers. “Parents think they’ll take the kid on a lawnmower ride. But they hit a bump, the child falls off and the injuries are severe.”

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