Now that schools are no longer in session and kids are outside enjoying the hot weather, here are some essential summer safety tips to keep in mind when walking and bicycling to camp, summer school, the playground, or around the neighborhood.

  1. Drink plenty of waterIt is very important to drink plenty of water, before, during, and after any outdoor activities such as bicycling, walking and running to avoid dehydration. Drinking fluids before and after a hot-weather ride, walk or run is just as important as during.  Here are some tips from the experts at bicycling.com (source: Marianne MCGinnis, bicycling.com):

    Time it right
    Hydrating before pedaling helps you avoid drying out on the road.  While riding, drink enough to match the intensity of the exercise, the heat of the day and your body’s needs.  Afterward, your goal is to replace lost fluids.

    Customize People sweat at different rates, and rides vary in terrain, speed and distance, but hydration goals are the same regardless.

  2. Apply Sunscreen — Whenever outside, if the sun is shining or it is a cloudy day, make sure to use sunscreen (and rub it in well). Despite the effects of the sun being stronger and more noticeable when the sun’s rays are beaming down, you can still get sunburned on a cloudy day. Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, apply 30 minutes prior to going outside, and reapply every 2 hours. Additionally, seek out shade and wear sunglasses when you are out in the sun.  And, don’t forget about your lips — they can get burned as well! (source: American Academy of Dermatology).
  3. Wear your Helmet –Bike helmets are so important that the U.S. government has created safety standards for them. Your helmet should have a sticker that says it meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If your helmet doesn’t have a CPSC sticker, get one that does. Wear a bike helmet EVERY TIME YOU RIDE, even if you are going for a short ride. And, in New Jersey if you are under the age of 17, it’s the law! Your bike helmet should fit you properly. You don’t want it too small or too big. Never wear a hat under your bike helmet.

    Once you have the right helmet, you need to wear it the right way so it will protect you. It should be worn level and cover your forehead. Don’t tip it back so your forehead is showing. The straps should always be fastened. If the straps are flying, it’s likely to fall off your head when you need it most. Make sure the straps are adjusted so they’re snug enough that you can’t pull or twist the helmet around on your head.

    Take care of your bike helmet and don’t throw it around. That could damage the helmet and it won’t protect you as well when you really need it. If you do fall down and put your helmet to the test, be sure to get a new one. (Source: kidshealth.org).

  4. Keep your pets safe!  Hot summer weather can be dangerous for our furry friends.  Here is a summer pet safety checklist from adopt-a-pet.com:
    Exercise early in the morning or late in the evening with your pet.  It’s best to avoid walking, running or hitting the trails with your buddy on hot days or warm, humid nights.Don’t leave your pet in the car.  It only take 15 minutes for an animal to get heat strike and die in a hot car!

    Prevent heat stroke.  Exposure to high temperatures, humidity and poor ventilation are often associated with heatstroke.  Ensure dogs have access to plenty of water.

    Protect your animals from sunburn.  Check with your vet for pet-safe sunscreen or keep at-risk pets indoors when the sun is high and hot.

    Avoid hot pavement.  Can you believe that when the air temperature outside is 77 degrees, asphalt in the sun measures at 125 degrees?  Walks in the morning and evening can help avoid hot pavements or walk dogs in fields or on the grass.

    Never leave a dog unattended with access to a swimming pool.  Teach your dog how to swim safely to the steps to exit the pool or fence in the pool.

    Enjoy the summer and keep safe while walking and bicycling!