Outdoor Safety

Who doesn’t love being outside? On weekends and over vacation, the kids are home from school and it can be a great chance to relax and spend quality time together. Whether you’re planning on spending time by the pool or beach, going on a hike, or simply lounging in your backyard, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure when enjoying the great outdoors.

Page Contents

  1. Heat, Cold, Sun Exposure, and Hydration
  2. Water Safety
  3. Plants
  4. Bug Bites and Stings

Heat, Cold, Sun Exposure, and Hydration

Babies Less Than 1 Year Old

Hydration for everyone is important in the hot summer. Babies can stay hydrated with frequent breastfeeding or bottle feeding (breastmilk or formula both hydrate as well as provide necessary nutrients). It is recommended that babies under 6 months drink exclusively breast milk or formula. You can find more information about when to introduce water here. If you are breastfeeding, be sure you are well-hydrated and drinking enough water. 

It is also incredibly important to protect babies from the sun. Babies have very delicate, sensitive skin. Under 6 months old, they should be kept in shade and out of direct sunlight.

When warm out, keep them cool and protected by dressing baby in lightweight, long-sleeved shirt and pants, brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Younger than 6 months, sunscreen should be limited to small areas that cannot be covered such as the face. Older than 6 months, sunscreen can be applied to the entire body. If your baby is younger than 1 year and gets sunburn, call your baby’s doctor right away.

Children Older than 1 Year

For children older than 1 year, most of the same guidelines apply. Avoiding the heat of the day, covering up, and wearing (and reapplying) sunscreen are the best ways to stay safe in the summer sun. The biggest difference as they get older is hydrating. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “To stay well hydrated, children ages 1-3 years need approximately 4 cups of beverages per day, including water or milk. This increases for older kids to around 5 cups for 4-8 year olds, and 7-8 cups for older children.” During the summer or while active in sports, these amounts will likely need to be increased.

In the cooler months, the rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. Be aware of frostbite, when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. and hypothermia, when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures.

Learn about drink recommendations for all ages at

Do NOT leave children in the car by themselves. The average number of U.S. child hot car deaths is 38 per year with more than 88% being age 3 and younger. Leaving the windows open and/or parking in the shade are both not shown to have a significant decrease in how quickly the temperature rises or the maximum temperature in the vehicle. Leaving a young child in the car is not only incredibly dangerous but knowingly leaving a child under the age of 12 unsupervised in a vehicle is illegal in the state of Connecticut.

Parked cars get hot, fast. Never leave a child in a car.

Learn More about Heat, Cold, Sun Exposure, and Hydration


Water Safety

Drowning can happen quickly and is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4. The number one rule is to NEVER leave a child unattended around or in a body of water. There should always be at least one adult, who is sober, able to swim, and knows how to administer CPR, supervising children around water. It is also incredibly important to get your child swimming lessons. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infant swim lessons do not appear to reduce drowning risk (though it can still be a fun bonding activity) and it is recommended that children start lessons as a layer of protection against drowning beginning for many children starting at age 1. (Add facilities that offer lessons?)

Just like dressing your child in bright colors makes it easier to spot them in a crowd, a neon-colored swimsuit makes it easier to spot a child in the water (both at the surface and under the water). Alive Solutions did multiple tests showing the best colors to wear in various bodies of water, as well as testing the effect of patterns on visibility

It is also important to consider the use of Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs). Standards and recommendations for PFDs are set by the US Coast Guard, which you can learn about here

Car seats are not built with the intention of being buoyant or to be used as flotation devices. Infants and babies should be held by an adult when near the water or on a boat.

Learn more about Water Safety



Connecticut is full of beautiful foliage but it is important, especially with young children, to know what plants are safe and which plants are not. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather just a highlight of plants to watch out for. Prevention is best when it comes to accidental poisoning; teach children never to put any plant parts in their mouths as many plants are toxic when ingested (even in small amounts).

If you think your child swallowed something potentially poisonous, use the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. Help is available 24 hours a day, online or by phone.


Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

Urushiol is the oil in Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac that causes them to itch. Urushiol is not a poison but rather an allergen which is why it causes an itchy rash. The easiest way to prevent reaction to these plants is to prevent contact. Making sure areas are clear of poison ivy/oak/sumac before letting children play and teaching them “Leaves of three, let them be” (though this saying does not apply to Poison Sumac). Learning to identify these plants is important but tricky as their appearances can change throughout the year due to various environmental factors.


Stinging and Burning Nettles

Stinging and Burning Nettles are plants from the same family that have small hairs on their leaves and stems that can cause, as the name suggests, a stinging or burning sensation resulting in an itchy rash. As with Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac, it is best to make sure the area your child is playing in is free of nettles as well as teaching them how to identify and avoid it.

Learn More about Poisonous Plants


Bug Bites and Stings

With the warmer weather comes more bugs, and while many insects are harmless there are some to keep an eye out for. As with the section on plants, this is not a complete list of every insect to watch out for but highlights some common ones to keep an eye out for. One of the best ways to prevent a variety of bug bites is with insect repellant. Learn about the approved safe and effective insect repellants and how to best apply them here.

Wearing light-colored, long sleeves and closed-toed shoes can also help reduce the risk of insect bites and stings.

Learn more about general Insect Bites and Stings



Ticks are a type of arachnid (like spiders) that are quite common in Connecticut. When they bite they bury their head into the skin, making them hard to remove. Depending on the type of tick and how long they have been embedded, there is a chance to get illnesses like Lyme Disease.

If you or your child is bitten by a tick, it can be submitted for testing by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, submit a Form with the tick(s) to CAES by going to their website for more information here.

Learn more about ticks at



Mosquitos are a common flying insect that can spread viruses and parasites through their bite. In Connecticut, there are 54 species, less than half of which are considered a pest to humans. Mosquitoes can carry diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Malaria, West Nile Virus and more.

Learn more about mosquitoes at


Bees and Wasps

Bees, Hornets, and Wasps are flying, pollinating insects that often sting as a defense mechanism. Most of these insects will not sting unless they are scared (e.g. being swatted at) or if you are in the nest/hive of a territorial species. Bees and wasps tend to be found in gardens, orchards, and even around garbage cans.

Learn more about Bees and Wasps