Is Your Child Safe ENOUGH? Take This Summer Safety Quiz!

Hi Folks — Now for something completely different. This piece of mine recently ran in the Washington Post.  Enjoy!  – L.

Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe. Very, Very Safe 

It’s summertime, which means it’s time for parents to think about safety — only safety. That’s what all the parenting magazines and Web sites will tell you, as will every TV news report that begins, “It was a beautiful summer day until . . . ”As a result, you know how important it is for your children to avoid all swimming pools, playgrounds, lakes, camps, parks, bugs, balls, hoses, horses, exercise, soap bubbles, sunbeams, sand, sugar and, of course, other children.

If you are still considering allowing your child to play outdoors this summer, go right ahead, you risk junkie! But first, heed these tips. Some were gleaned from reliable sources, others I might have made up. It makes sense to take some precautions, but can you tell the difference?
1. Limit children’s sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
2 . Children should watch TV or text during peak sun hours.
3 . Discourage children from moving rapidly when they see insects — movement encourages insects to bite.
4. If an insect alights on your child’s arm or leg, remove that limb.
5. Do not let your children dive.
6 . Do not let your children lift anything heavier than a wet towel. 
7 . Touch your toddler at all times to check body temperatures.
8. Touch your child’s wrist at all times to check for a pulse.
9. Use softer-than-standard baseballs and safety release bases to reduce baseball-related injuries. 
1 0. Use charades to pantomime football plays to reduce the possibility of concussions.
11. Avoid dressing your child in bright colors or flowery prints.
12. Choose clothes that cover your child’s shoulders, arms, fingers, legs and face.
13. Sweat and body heat bring on the bugs. Bathe the kids before heading out and try to keep them calm.
14. Give your children sedatives at breakfast and as needed throughout the day.
15. Check out a camp’s play equipment for cracks and dents.
16. Check out whether your child’s day camp is located at a federal prison.
17. Make sure your children come inside after 30 minutes of play for 15 minutes of water and snacks.
18. Make sure your children remember the rule “Step on a crack, time to eat a snack.”
19. Avoid gardens where flowers are in bloom.
20. Enjoy gardens where flowers are dead.
21. Never let your child wait in the car, even for a minute.
22. Always wake your toddlers to drag them across a busy gas station, for safety’s sake.
23. Avoid sweets during picnics.
24.Serve only bran-based desserts.
25. Make sure all home swing sets have nine inches of wood chips beneath the playset.
26. Remove all swings and replace with ottomans.
27. Make sure kids do a series of warm-ups and gentle stretches to get their muscles ready for action.
28 . Do not allow your child to play tag before being assessed by a medical professional.
29 . Stay away from very cold drinks — they can cause cramps.
30. Serve Popsicles at room temperature.
Answer Key:The odd-numbered tips come from actual parenting resources. The even numbered tips don’t . . . yet.

Tip #7: Touch your toddler at all times to check body temperatures. REAL OR NOT?

45 Responses

  1. Please no. I honestly thought they were all jokes. “Avoid gardens in full bloom”?! Purleeeasse!!!

  2. I liked the one about bathing kids BEFORE heading outside. The person who wrote that one obvioulsy doesn’t have kids or never lived in an area where water conservation rules were in effect.

  3. I’m amazed that bringing kids in every 30 mins for 15 mins of water and snacks is true parenting advice. Water maybe, but not 15 minutes worth. And what kid needs to eat for 15 minutes out of every 45?

  4. Hysterical. I live in a region with a few venomous snakes and many non-venomous ones (SE Texas). I know of a mom down here that won’t let her children outside until she inspects her entire yard for snakes first. Never mind that snake bites are rare, and death from venomous snakes even rarer. Yes, I have a snake picker and a ‘dispatch’ shovel at the ready just in case, but sheesh. In 18 months of living here, I have yet to see one.

  5. Keep your kids calm… hahaha! They forgot: “And then complain when your kid can’t sit still in a restaurant because he has too much energy, or doesn’t want to go to bed because he’s not tired.”

  6. That’s funny… I work in the fitness industry (alongside my “real” job) and the ‘stretches’ one is just bunk. Kids don’t need to stretch, anymore than they need a formal exercise regime. They just need to play with friends; tag, hopskotch, etc. Now if your kid has never, ever done any physical activivity, then yes, maybe. But otherwise, just let them play, they will figure it out. And if they get sore, give them a high five, some water, and send them back out. 🙂

    Oh, and sweat and body heat do not bring on bugs, carbon dioxide does. Our skin exhales CO2, which is what attacts biting insects. If you don’t believe it, leave your car idling for a bit in a mosquito infested area, and watch them all congregate around the tailpipe. Bathing your kids will do nothing for biting insects.

    @Calamity Kate: In my old neighborhood, I spotted a king snake. These are good snakes and fairly rare. They’re good because they eat the bad crittters like mice and rats, and do not bite people. They’re also immune to the bite of local poisonous snakes and eat them too. I made the mistake of telling a neighborhood mom that we have a king snake, saying is this is a good thing as it means we don’t have rattlers, and she just about called out the marines to search the neighborhood and kill it….

  7. Interesting

  8. Gardens with flowers. My God.

  9. Wow, I couldn’t tell them apart. Although some did seem a bit too much.

  10. I tip my hat to those of you who live side by side with snakes and accept it as a fact of daily life. I could not do that.

  11. Actually some of these make sense and have been common in the South for a long time
    1. Over done – usually around here both Day Camps and Sleep away camps have a rest period from 2 – 4. It is HOT that time of day. Some places just have indoor/shade activities. Some like the sleep away camp I went to have an actual rest period for elementary kids, quiet reading time/indoor socialize time for JH and HS kids. We got our required reading done during this time.

    3. This is basic common sense you don’t yell, scream, jump, and wave your arms around when you see a bee, wasp, yellow jacket and the like. You calmly walk away. I remember a girl going into a panic because of a bush full of honey bees. She got stung because she tried to shoo them away. (I always remind kids that bees die when they sting someone so they really don’t want to sting you.)

    5. Should be teach your children to dive properly/don’t dive into unknown water or water that can change levels due to tides.

    7, 9 stupid

    11 Again common sense. Bright colors attract bees and other pollinators. Avoid those colors if the kid is likely to panic. When we have parties at our farm, we have to remind people to were flat shoes, and leave the perfume at home, or we get women trying to run on uneven ground in heals, being chased by bees attracted by the scent.

    13. Stupid the way worded. If a kids is getting “eaten alive” and they are hot and sweaty – we hose them down first, dry off and then put on bug spray. Works better than just bug spray.

    15. Cheep neglected play equipment destroyed by the sun does reflect badly on the organization.

    17. To rigid – just make water, fruit, and healthy protein available kids will take it when they need it.

    19, stupid

    21 don’t leave for more than a couple of minutes (put up cart, don’t go in the building) again US south heat kills

    23, 25, 27, stupid

    29 over stated. , 29 The cramps are more likely because of not having enough fluids – they are a symptom of heat exhaustion/the early stages of heat stroke.

  12. My kids are only 3 and 20 months, and even THEY get more freedom than this. No ER visits (other than an illness related one), nothing worse than a black eye and a tooth that’s going to get lost early, and they are healthy and happy.

  13. So many of these depend entirely on where you live and what the weather is on a given day. In western Washington State, it doesn’t get hot enough to make keeping the kids inside mid-day necessary, and the bugs aren’t that bad. As Ms. Herbert points out, it’s different in the south.

    Common sense, anyone? Water breaks are a good idea, but as always, taking things to extremes (like mandating a 15-minute break for every 30 minutes outside) is silly.

  14. Things like the “never leave kids in the car for a minute” rule point out how silly it is to expand a rule that makes sense in some parts of the U.S. at some times of the year to apply to all children at all times everywhere. Imagine if my town, which regularly has visits from very large brown bears, were a U.S. media center. National parenting magazines and other media would extrapolate the common-sense rule about not letting kids out of your sight near a salmon stream while the salmon are running to a rule about never letting kids go down to even the tiniest creek all by themselves because of “wildlife danger,” never mind that it’s very unlikely for a child to encounter a bear in Central Park or (even considering the recent headlines) a vacant lot in Pittsburgh.

  15. Somewhat in the spirit of this post: I was browing ThinkGeek today and came across this book:

    The description seems to fit very nicely with the Free-Range Kids philosophy, especially this part: “There are many “dangerous” things that are interesting, eye-opening, enlightening or just plain fun! And while there are aspects of danger in virtually everything we do, the trick is to learn how mastery actually minimizes danger.”

  16. Lenore, will you eventually tell us which rules are real and which ones aren’t?

  17. “Serve popsicles at room temperature.” You naughty woman, you.

    “Step on a crack, time to eat a snack!” Love it. That’s about the size of it (size large) these days! LOL

  18. People are way to over protective. They need to get off their high horse and let their kids enjoy being kids. Mine is safe right now because he is 6 weeks old and is in my wife’s arms nursing. LOL… I fully expect my son to go out catch bugs and even maybe a snake if he is like me when he gets older. I will never forget the terror of my grandmother when I tried to catch that garden snake. I did not know what kind of snake it was, I just wanted to catch it…

  19. @Emily, it says at the bottom of the article that the odd ones are from real parenting sources and the even ones are made up.

  20. 7 . Touch your toddler at all times to check body temperatures.

    Show me a toddler that will hold still to let you touch them at all times! I don’t think they exist.

  21. @Fuchsia, I was also baffled by that one. Besides, what good would checking a toddler’s body temperature do? Usually, if a kid has a fever, his behavior will let you know. I guess I don’t understand the context of the tip. If they mean while the kid is outside playing, sweat and red faces are usually a good way to tell if they’re hot, too. 🙂

  22. @Mrs. Herbert, I live in the South, too, and on a horse farm. I agree that lot of these are such common sense, when you see them written out like this, they sound stupid. I guess they needed to simplify them for publication. Or maybe some people are just that dumb. Also, for the others, we have rattlesnakes and cottonmouths on the farm, but I still let my kid play outside. 99.9% of the time, the snake will run away before you ever even see it. Again, to those of us who are used to these things, they’re just common sense.

  23. Ooh, this one’s fun. 🙂 My particular favorites were:

    #9, because (a) they already do use padded balls for the younger age groups (IIRC they start using hardballs at the Minors level in Little League), (b) they already do use safety-release bases, and (c) it won’t help – witness my son’s broken finger during a ball-trapping drill, caused by a Nerf football.

    #11, because have they *looked* at children’s clothes lately?

    #14, because God knows, I’ve been tempted. 🙂

    #15, because man, would they have been appalled by what the wood shop teacher at my high school built on my elementary school’s playground…

    #16, because it could be. I live about 2 miles from a Federal prison, and about 7 miles from a state prison AND a state mental hospital. 🙂

    #25… and yet, somehow, I survived having a swing set that (a) had no wood chips whatsoever underneath it, and (b) wasn’t even cemented into the ground, which made for REAL fun when you got going…

  24. The comments here are incredible.

  25. #1 is not heat, its UV. UV rates are highest between 10am and 4pm (regardless of air temp), and for the first time ever there is a hole in the ozone layer above the arctic, which means far less UV is being blocked. So please if you have a fair skinned child, or a history of skin cancer be aware burn times will be shorter. Here in New Zealand and Australia burn times are often under 5 mins mid summer (we have had an ozone hole in summer for decades), and you do not want our high skin cancer rate.

  26. We usually get one sunburn a year, and that reminds us to pack the sunblock. Back when we lived in California, it happened in March. Now that we live near Seattle, it doesn’t happen until June. Two things contribute, I think; the lower temperatures mean we cover up more for longer, and a rainier spring means we don’t go out as often. My daughter and I have the burn-then-tan sort of skin, so I don’t think it’s that big a deal. (My husband, on the other hand, wears a prescription hat) In fact I let her put on her own sunblock, and she has a sunburn (now tan) patch on her shoulder that has clear finger-marks in it, lol!

  27. I found #7 particularly amusing. A good friend of mine is an emergency doctor, and recently she said that, having had a boisterous, happy 3yo present to her ER with a fever, and subsequently a clean bill of health, the parents asked her, “But what should we do about his fever?”

    Her reply: “Stop taking his temperature.”

    (Disclaimer: he was happy, bright and alert. This would not be her advice for a lethargic, unhappy child with a fever… Actually, do I need to provide a disclaimer here? Probably not. This is a site full of sensible people who make balanced, rational judgments!!!)

  28. I laughed so hard reading these tips, I cried. But that’s dangerous because then the tears might obscure my vision and cause an accident. The ones you made up were truly ridiculous. Seeing as #17 is a real tip, that would mean kids should be eating every 45 minutes while awake (or at least while active). Given how overweight children are, shouldn’t we encourage them to eat less often, not more often (I understand the water thing, but can’t they drink water when they’re outside playing?).

  29. I think limiting sun exposure 10-4 makes sense…as long as it’s “limit” not “avoid altogether.” And you can still be outdoors that whole time but with sunscreen or in the shade. Honestly NONE of the others made any sense. Seriously, can’t you have a snack WHILE at the park instead of going in? Or bring a water bottle? That’s what we do! This weekend my 1.5 yr old and I were out at the playground for 4 hours straight because I was smart enough to bring a snack and water.

  30. @Buffy: Take some time and learn about snakes. Many are not only benign, they are good for the environment, your garden, and so on. I don’t have much use for the poisonous ones, but the smaller constrictors (corn snakes, king snakes, etc) make good pets, especially if they’re handled a lot (carefully) when young.

  31. A mom locally left her 13 year old son, and her toddler and I think about six year old in the locked car at a Walmart last weekend. A guy came over and convinced the 13 year old that he was a fireman (because he had a t-shirt on that came from a fire department several hundred miles away) and got the kids to get out of the car. I don’t know what he said to them, but the boy was tears. He took the kids to the service desk, who paged their mother.

    She called the cops, and he was arrested for impersonating a fireman, false imprisonment, and public intoxication. She, and her kids, went home without further hassle.

    However, because this made it into the paper, a lot of people chimed in that he was probably trying to protect the kids, and the mother should have been arrested for leaving them in the car. And, that the boy was not old enough to be in charge because he did not ask for ID.

    Well, I have to wonder what he said that had the boy in tears – that his mom was sick, that he would have her arrested, no idea what he really said. And as for asking for ID, haven’t there been cases of ADULTS getting confused about people acting as though they are police officers when they are not? I did notice this morning that the comments against the mother had all been removed, which, was all of them. Sad.

  32. The newspaper went back and got the rest of the story, although the comments are not any better for the mom. The guy flashed his wallet, and told the kids that what his mom did was illegal and he was going to have her arrested. Shame on him for scaring those kids like that! Oh, and it was a 4 and 7 year old, and the 4 year old went with the mother.

    Everyone going on about how irresponsible 13 year olds can be….honestly, I leave my kids in the car from time to time too. Windows open usually in summer because we don’t have AC. They usually sit and read. My 12 year old will read to her 7 year old brother. Not an issue, I always make sure it isn’t too hot.

  33. […] Skenazy of Free Range Kids offers us a Safety Quiz. Which you know is going to be crazy-silly. So it’s good for a chuckle, until you realize […]

  34. Children are supposed to eat and drink every 30 minutes? And then eat and drink for 15 minutes? Huh?

    I suppose that might make sense if you were eating one grape per sitting and chewing veeeeeery sloooooowly. But wait, kids can choke on grapes. I guess mom is suppose to cut the grape up into tiny pieces and each piece needs to be placed in the mouth and chewed 10 times before swallowing.

    Or kids could just stop to eat and drink when they are hungry and thirsty.

  35. @Buffy–Lenore told me too, via e-mail, so yeah, my bad. Still, even the even-numbered “guidelines” sound too silly and over-the-top to be real.

  36. I love that the CBS site also says ‘if you must exercise…’ on one of their points. Sigh, if you really MUST exercise!

  37. That was fantastic!

    13, 19, and 30 are my favorites. I hadn’t realized before that bad parenting could be defined as letting your kids get excited about a beautiful garden in full bloom while also letting them enjoy a twin pop!

  38. Loved it! I do make sure the kids hang out under or in trees as much as possible in the height of the UV season, cause they already have suspicious moles, and darn it all, I personally do have one that I now have to keep away from anyone with any particularly nasty bug, but aside from that, let’s just get out there and enjoy it!

    Gosh it must be exhausting being a ‘responsible’ parent……

    And isn’t 11 just a little ‘culturally insensitive,’ LOL? Some of the kids I work with don’t wear anything but big floral prints…..:-). Also, how far out should I spread the 9 inches of woodchips? Far enough so they can come flying off the swing in midflight and still land in the woodchips? Except that by then they have already cut their heads open on the edge of the deck. Do I need a mattress covering the deck edge?

    So glad its still winter, and the weather is completely miserable!

  39. Things my kids have done so far this summer: Swim in a lake and oceon, bike miles all over an island, horseback riding, water park, go out on a boat, ski, play outside unsupervised with bows and arrows and bb guns, drink out of a hose, climb trees, indoor rock climbing, help grandpa with power tools in the wood shop, cooking, chores… uh… I’m sure lots of other stuff but I wasn’t hovering over them at the time. Oh yeah, and play lots of video games in the middle of the day CAUSE ITS HOT.

    And despite my best efforts they managed to get a sunburn, but not a bad one. They also have bug bites, scrapes, and bruises just like the pediatrician told me kids should have.

    Ages 11 and 9, respectively.

  40. What each of these so called “safety” tips do (the real ones) is take up time and money.
    NO mom with young children could possibly follow these obsessive suggestions at ridiculously rigid time increments and not be an anxious mess.
    As for limiting outdoor sun exposure during peak sun hours, I guess my kids would have missed out on most of the highlights of summer- like swimming and fishing. I think these are suggestions for vampires. Yes, we have many indoor camp options now- my two favorites were video game camp (at a Best Western, it was sleepover, too!) and Spa camp. Where kids can learn to use a curling iron, flat iron, you name it! But the joys of summer outside should no be avoided. Kids and gardens in bloom go hand in hand. How anyone could type that line as a real suggestion is mind blowing.

  41. If a “camp” is going to be primarily indoors, it should be because the activity is a specialized one that can only be done indoors. Even our old music camp has a lot of outdoor time- and that’s with hours and hours of rehearsing, practicing, theory, and worship every day. (

  42. Mrs. Herbert, #3 would make sense if it said “if they see stinging insects.” It didn’t. It said “if they see insects.” That means kids can’t chase fireflies. It means they have to stop running around if they see an ant or a grasshopper.

  43. I grew up in the south, with a mother that I always considered to be VERY overprotective, and I have never even heard of many of these suggestions.

    To be fair, you really can’t leave young children in the car for almost any length of time in 100 degree weather. I mean, if the engine is running, and you are within site, it’s not a problem., or if you’re gone less than 5 minutes and the windows are open. My mother certainly left us alone to go into the grocery store, though, once we were old enough to let ourselves in and out, open and close windows, and turn the AC on and off.

    Avoid flowers? Really? And how are kids supposed to learn how to dive if we don’t let them practice?

    Come to think of it, what happened to all of the diving boards? All pools used to have them when I was a kid.

  44. […] she is a little baby and not because I am an overprotective freak. I was able to laugh at this here Summer Safety Quiz, so hopefully it is the […]

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