Whether your child loves team sports, being in nature, or just playing with their friends, staying active is important for their physical and mental health. You can help your keiki enjoy some physical activity and avoid visits to the ER this summer by putting safety first and following these tips.

1. Stay safe in the water. Make sure a responsible adult is supervising water time, and never leave children unattended around water. Know your child’s abilities and limits in the ocean, and always check conditions before hitting the waves. Swim at beaches with lifeguards and make sure keiki are wearing a properly fitted life vest if boating or kayaking. Finally, teach your kids to swim to build confidence in the water.

2. Use safety gear. Teach kids to protect their heads by always wearing a helmet during activities like bike riding, skateboarding, or riding a scooter. Make sure helmets and other safety gear fit properly, adjusting or sizing up as your child grows. And set a good example by always wearing a helmet yourself. 

3. Skip ATVs. The AAP recommends that children under the age of 16 not ride or operate ATVs, due to the risk of serious injury or death. However, if you do allow your child to use ATVs, reduce the risk by making sure they only use vehicles that are an appropriate size. The vast majority of deaths occur in children operating adult-sized ATVs. Stick to one person per vehicle, and of course, always have your child wear a helmet. 

4. Never skip seatbelts and car seats. Before you rev up for summer fun, remember: seatbelts on, car seats in, and stay inside the car where it’s safest. It is incredibly important for both adults and keiki to wear seatbelts and for younger kids to be secured in the right car seat for their size. Also, avoid riding in the back of trucks. Even if it seems like fun, it’s really dangerous because you are left completely unprotected; even a minor car accident can cause serious injuries. 

5. Keep it cool. Children are more susceptible to dehydration and heat-related illnesses so make sure keiki stay hydrated with plenty of water, and take regular breaks to cool off when playing in the hot sun. Wear sunscreen and reapply often and after swimming. 

This summer, help your keiki make memories — not injuries! By teaching safety, and practicing it yourself, you can keep kids safe while staying active all summer long.

By Dr. Vijak Ayasanonda, Emergency Medicine Physician and Associate Medical Director for Emergent Medical Associates, Maui Memorial Medical Center. For more summer safety tips, visit mauihealth.org/summersafety.