"Summer" seems to mean "good times in the outdoors." But it's important to remember that summer also presents kids with some dangers. Most can be avoided by following common sense safety tips:
Swimming: Swim only if a lifeguard or responsible adult is present. Never dive into shallow water--you could hurt your head or neck.
When you're at a pool, don't run, because you might slip. And stay away from pool drains, which can trap your hair or body.
Swimming at a beach is different than at a pool. The water can get deep suddenly, and there may be an undertow. Stay within the boundaries set up by lifeguards.
At water parks, obey the rules and go only on those attractions that are appropriate for your age and size.
Wherever you swim, try to avoid swallowing the water, which might contain bacteria that could make you sick.
Biking: When riding a bike, scooter or skates, wear a helmet to prevent head injuries. Knee and elbow pads also are a good idea when using skates or scooters. Stay on the sidewalk and be careful crossing streets. Don't ride in the dark, unless you're with an adult and have lights and reflectors.
Hiking: Make sure you know what poison ivy, oak and sumac look like. If you think you have come in contact with a poisonous plant, shower and put your clothes in the wash. If you end up with a rash, your parents can get medicine from the doctor to help relieve itching.
Heat: You can become dehydrated without being thirsty, so, when hanging out in the heat, drink lots of cold water. Feeling weak, dizzy and nauseated are signs that the heat is getting to you. If you ever feel this way, rest in a cool spot and drink more water. Let an adult know what's happening.
Sun: We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Wear sunscreen! Even if it's a cloudy day, you still need to protect your skin. Experts say most sun damage happens when we're kids. Becoming tanned and burned puts you at a higher risk of getting skin cancer when you're an adult. Covering up with clothing and a hat can help protect you too.
Kids and other readers can e-mail Emily Dwass at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kid Health runs the third Monday of the month.
Do you like to draw? If so, we have an opportunity for you. Send us your artwork about healthy hair (next month's topic), and we just may use it to illustrate the August column. If your art isn't selected, don't worry. We'll have a new topic every month, so you can try again. Send submissions to Kid Health, Health section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Include age, grade and school. Sorry, but submissions cannot be returned.