Today is my 101st post on this blog, which is exciting! Similar feeling as when my Honda Accord reached 200,000 miles: a milestone, a special number and personal record reached… I know, I do wish it was a more worthy record, like running a 4-mile under 1 minute, or power-lifting twice my body weight!
Summer Safety is an important topic for Cultural Care Au Pair, and is one of the 4 children safety topics covered in our local coordinator’s au pair meetings. Although water and playground safety are covered through that continuous education, it is important to discuss your expectations for safety with your au pair, as well as your preferences based on your experience living in your area of the USA.
1) Sun Protection
Remember that especially if your au pair is from a colder climate, she may not be fully aware of the impact of extensive exposure to sun for children. Show her what headwear you usually put on the kids before they go out, and also explain when/ where you apply sunscreen (before going to the pool or playing outside, after they have been in water, etc.).
With the intense heat we have had reaching 108 degrees in Tennessee, I don’t think you will have to explain when to stay inside and avoid the heat and humidity!
2) Bugs Off!
I was surprised at the number of large unfriendly insects that reside in semi-tropical South Carolina when I first moved from France. Explain when you apply bug repellent spray and what insects to watch out for, such as hornets, wasps, scorpions, fire ants.
3) Water Safety
This is a topic we cover more in detail, with regards to pool, lake and ocean safety. Most au pairs are good swimmers and comfortable in water with children, but just take the time to explain the rules at the beach you vacation at for example. If you have a pool, explain when it needs to be emptied, covered and the fence closed. With several children of different ages, reiterate how important it is to NEVER leave a child alone in the pool or inside: keep the family together!
A form of water safety too… Explain how much more water the children need to drink when it is hot and they play outside, even if they do not express their thirst. Your au pair is there to anticipate your children’s needs and she can tactfully provide them with water to drink, or make it fun with lemonade and fresh lemon, or other fresh fruit juice. But water should be the standard beverage consumed, with occasional fruit juice or soda.
5) Prevent Food Poisoning
Explain that most foods, even bread or fruit, are stored in the refrigerator. Ask them not to leave food out for more than two hours (one hour if it’s 90°F or warmer). When grilling it is recommend to use different-colored utensils and plates to keep cooked and raw meats separate.
Show your au pair your storage system for vitamins and medicine so they are never mistaken for candy or at the reach of young children.
I hope this article will help you to keep summer safety at the forefront of your discussions with your au pair and to ensure you communicate your expectations and requirements as necessary. Contact me with question or comments at 864-373-3302 or via e-mail.