My piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, “If You’re a Kid, the Experts Want You to Have a Fun-Free Summer,” was inspired by the warnings some of you sent me from a blog where the pediatrician advised parents about the multitudinous dangers of letting their kids play in the sand:
“Remember when digging in the sand at the beach was a fun activity for young children,” says the website KidsTravelDoc. “Sorry. No more. Based on recent findings, only with lots of do’s and don’ts is frolicking in the sand a healthy activity, says the U.S. Environmental Protective [sic] Agency.”.I was unable to find the EPA’s granular list of caveats. But the blog’s author, Karl Neumann of the American Academy of Pediatrics, lays out his own don’ts: “Studies show that children playing in the sand are more likely to become ill than children merely walking on it. And the risk of illness increases with digging in the sand, being ‘buried’ in it, and digging in wet sand.”.Got it. Keep your kids on dry sand. No, wait: “Dry sand presents problems, too.” So, Dr. Neumann warns: “Discourage children from lying directly on the sand.”.While you’re at it: “Walking barefooted is another ‘don’t.’ Have children wear lightweight, ventilated, hard-soled footwear that covers the toes. This helps prevent stubbed toes, lacerations, puncture wounds, and burns from hot sand. Ideally, footwear should be worn for wading in the water.”.Why take them to the beach at all? Keep them at home on a hard, nonporous surface, free of dirt and obstacles, checking frequently for venomous spiders, disease-bearing insects, and sewage. Children should be in steel-toed work boots at all times, as well as oven mitts and chain mail.
Here’s a link to the rest of the article, but it’s behind a paywall. So let me share just the ending, where I quote Parents magazine on how to keep kids safe at the playground:
“[W]alk away if you see cement, asphalt, dirt, or grass: These surfaces are linked to head injuries.”.So are walls, if you bang your head against them. My summer advice to parents is therefore short and sweet. Tell your kids they can’t swim alone, get into a stranger’s car, or let their parents buy them a high-tech water bottle..
And then stop reading other safety tips.
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