In the coming weeks school-aged children around the country will be celebrating their new-found freedom.  While the long, lazy days of summer offer a great time to enjoy the outdoors, they also present more oppportunities for kids to get injured.  Keep the following safety tips in mind when planning your summer activities.

Wear proper protective gear.  When biking, skateboarding, or riding on scooters, helmets are a must-have piece of safety equipment.  The most serious injuries from bicycle accidents involve head injuries, and many times these can be avoided by wearing a proper fitting helmet.  Parents can set a good example by wearing a helmet during family rides, making the idea seem more cool to kids.  In addition to helmets, wrist and elbow pads are good for roller blading or skateboarders as elbows and wrists usually take the brunt of pavement falls when engaging in these types of activities.

Be vigilant around pools.  Like most parents, I have anxiety attacks about the thought of my child being around a pool without proper supervision.  It only takes a second for a toddler to slip beneath the water's surface and out of sight of parents.  If you own a pool and have small kids, or live in a neighborhood, be sure to secure the pool area to keep curious toddlers away.  I even like the idea of securing your interior doors at night with a latch or alarm system so little ones can't sneak out during the early morning hours.

We had our own scary experience with pools when my son was just three years-old.  We visited a relative who lived in an apartment complex with a community pool.  My son could not swim, so we outfit him in a bodysuit that was advertised as a safety device.  While standing on the side of the pool, his older sister pushed him in as a joke and he sank straight to the bottom!  Fortunately, my wife and I were both in the pool and were keeping a watchful eye so we immediately rescued him.  Our daughter learned a lesson about practical jokes around pools, and we all learned a lesson about how quickly kids can get into life-threatening trouble around pools.

Playgrounds are great fun, but offer opportunities for injury.  It is good practice to inspect a playground or playset before allowing kids to climb.  Wooden playsets notoriously harbor wasp nests underneath slides and covered towers.  Occasionally, public playground equipment can become damaged without proper maintenance and without parents and kids noticing.  Inspect swing chains, slide footers and boards on footbridges before letting little ones run free. 

Injury from the sun shows up much later, but can be just as painful.  During summer the sun's rays can burn young, tender skin faster than it does adults.  Limit outdoor activity during the hottest time of the day, and apply sunscreen to kids before going outdoors for prolonged periods.  Babies should also wear a hat when outside during the summer to prevent sunburn on their scalps, which are usually left unprotected as they have yet to develop a full head of hair.  Remember, just because you can't see the sun doesn't mean harmful UV rays are shining through.  Cloudy days can produce some of the worst sunburns because many parents forget this fact.

Have any other great summer safety tips?  Please share them with others in the comments section below.