"We recommend that kids hydrate before any athletic endeavor," says Wayne Moss, senior director of sports, fitness, and recreation at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Atlanta. Moss advises children to drink 2 to 3 cups of water about 2 hours before a game. The nonprofit group Safe Kids USA suggests 12 ounces half an hour before a game. Even with pre-hydration, children should take a break every 20 minutes or so during the game to drink some water or a sports drink.
Lock Away Chemicals and Medications
When children hang around the house, they have time to get into things. Household products as mundane as laundry detergent or oven cleaner can be poisonous for curious kids at home.
Johns-Thomas recommends locking products that contain dangerous chemicals in a cabinet. "Potential poisons should be kept out of sight and reach from kids," says Johns-Thomas. Also, lock up medications; curious children are tempted by pill bottles. This might mean a locked cabinet in the house, in the garage, and by the pool if you have one. Never transfer household chemicals into soda bottles or containers that might be mistaken as part of the afternoon snack.
Watch Your Children Around Water
Between ages 1 and 14, drowning is the second leading cause of death. "Parents should make sure their kids get swimming lessons," says Moss. And when your child is around water, whether it’s at the beach, a pool, lake, or river, make sure an adult who knows how to swim is there to supervise. It's a good idea to have your child buddy up with a friend while swimming, but a child’s eyes should never replace those of an adult. If you have your own pool, be sure to install a fence with a gate so children can't wander in unsupervised.
Make Time for Warm-up
Athletic injuries can bring summer fun to a grinding halt. "It’s important for kids to warm up properly and not just jump right into play," says Moss. A series of warm-ups and gentle stretches can get children's muscles ready for action. Talk to your young athlete about proper technique, and make sure she pays attention to her coach. For instance, jumping and landing with bent knees can go a long way toward protecting those important joints.