Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Community Safety While School is Out for the Summer

The warm weather and longer daylight hours are with us now. For the children in your community that means sleeping in late and the freedom to play outside from sun up to sun down (or at least until mom or dad calls them back inside).

While homeowners associations want families to enjoy their communities, they also want everyone to stay safe. There are so many ways your HOA board can help members enjoy a happy, healthy and safe summer with school being out.

Summer is a great time for kids to enjoy different indoor and outdoor activities in an HOA community. Whether they are young children or teens, learn ways to keep your kids safe and healthy while they enjoy the summer fun.

Association Management Group would like to offer residents and HOA boards these 5 tips to keep summertime safe and stress-free for you, your family and your HOA.

1.  Involve and Educate Children in Safety Measures

Make sure your children are educated and on board with their safety. Children may be playing in the community park, swimming at the community pool or riding their bikes around the neighborhood during the summer off school season. Helping kids understand and become involved in their own safety is important and gives them a sense of responsibility.  Educate kids about what types of accidents or injuries could occur during the summer activities and safety measures to help avoid them. Educate children on what to do if an injury does occur. Kids need to know what actions to take—such as alerting an adult or, having proper contact numbers or in the case of a true emergency, calling 911.

HOA TIP: Your board may want to offer a spring pre-summer family safety class at the clubhouse or at a home and get parents and kids onboard with what to expect. Your HOA may want to set up a committee to help with this. It's a great way to get adult residents involved in the community.

2.  Pool Safety

The pool is a wonderful form of exercise and fun for people of all ages, and it is probably one of the most dangerous forms of enjoyment if not properly managed. In an HOA community pool, always have an adult life guard or pool monitor present during open pool hours. No community should have a pool without this because of the potential for incident and liability.

Make sure children know how to swim or make sure they are wearing the proper life jacket for their size and weight. Help prevent water related illnesses caused by germs and chemicals found in the water. Keep the pee and other body elimination bacterial causing things out of the water. The community pool should have bathrooms. Make sure kids take bathroom breaks and if toddlers or infants are in the pool, check diapers frequently and change them regularly.

Community Associations should make sure they provide pool maintenance to keep pools clean and chemicals monitored for the correct levels. The pool decks should also be cleaned and free from algae that can cause slip and fall accidents.

Parents should have a reliable sitter at home with children if they work during the day and the sitter should be of adult age (not a pre-teen) responsible and know CPR. Whether parent or sitter never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning in children.

HOA TIP: Your HOA board may want to consider offering a spring or pre-summer pool safety class at the community pool before summer arrives. Contact a local high school or college swim club, athletic club, aquatic club or formal swim instructor to come to your community pool. You can offer this class for free or offer swim safety class for parents who may want to pay for them.

3.  Bicycle Riding Safety

Every kid loves to be mobile and speed around the streets of their community on their bike. Bicycle safety is often overlooked and minimized. There are a few things that can help reduce bicycle injuries during the summer when this activity is at its peak. Parents make sure your child has the proper bike riding gear such as a properly-fitted helmet, closed toe shoes or sneakers and most of all a little sunscreen if they are outdoors wearing shorts, short sleeve shirts or swim suits. 

Bicycle riding is best done in the day, but when a family is riding together at dusk, make sure each bike has reflectors that can be seen by passing cars.  Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, sidewalk cracks, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. It is a good idea to not to ride alone. Ride with other kids or parents. Adult residents should also be vigilant and be on the lookout for kids on bicycles during the summer months. This is the best way to prevent head injuries and death.

HOA TIP: Your HOA board may want to consider asking the local police department to come on a Saturday and conduct a bicycle safety class and a bicycle safety check. Kids love when the police visit and the local police department has a community service officer for such programs.

3.  Safety Tips in Traffic

Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across. Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

Adult or teen driving residents should take extra precaution with children out in full-force during the warm days and evenings. Distracted kids dash out into the street chasing after a run-away baseball or Frisbee, or may be skateboarding on the streets.

Slow down when driving through the community, be aware of your surroundings, and be prepared to make sudden stops if a child runs out into the road. Parents should remind kids that they have a responsibility to be aware of oncoming cars as well, and to be extra careful when they are on the street.

HOA TIP: Make sure your streets are well lit at dusk or evening. Make sure "Caution: Children At Play",  "Watch Out For Children" and speed limit signs are properly posted and visible.

4.  Plan Community Summer Fun

It is a fact that well organized and managed events are always safer. Organized events keep kids in one place, busy and they are less likely to get involved in mischief.  Kids are always safer when doing activities with a group or with the whole family.  Playing family outdoor games in an HOA community can be fun for the whole community. Hosting an afternoon event for kids to run off their energy is a great idea. Your HOA committee can come up with some clever ideas such as picnics, cookouts fun games such as hide and seek, hopscotch and races.  You can hire children's entertainment inexpensively such as; clowns, face painting etc.. Getting children outdoors and away from electronics will also be good for their health, giving them needed exercise.

HOA TIP: Your committee may want to contact the local YMCA and pay for a bus or YMCA workers to come and plan activities for children or offer parent the opportunity to pay the Y to take their kids by bus on day trips and activities.

AMG would like to provide your HOA board and parents with this valuable resource from The Center For Disease Control And Prevention: Keep Kids Safe In The Summer: https://www.cdc.gov/features/KidsSafety/