Fun in the Sun, Safely

The long-awaited summer season has finally arrived. Along with the welcome sunshine and warm weather comes a host of related safety issues, especially for children and young adults.
At all times, the most important and productive action we can take is to continuously pour out our hearts in tefillah on their behalf, recognizing that ultimately the fate of every living being is in the hands of Hashem.
But our belief in the need for siyatta diShmaya must never be an excuse for us to neglect our requisite hishtadlus, especially in matters that require vigilance.
School is basically over for girls and for many boys as well, who either resume learning in camp or have shorter hours, which translates into more free time. Riding a bike is a favorite pastime for youngsters. Yet riding a bicycle or a scooter on a sidewalk can become a real menace to pedestrians, especially the elderly, who aren’t nimble enough to get out of the way of a rushing two-wheeler. And traveling on streets filled with cars and trucks poses its own share of risks and challenges for riders.
Furthermore, parents often don’t realize just how far their children can travel on a bike even in a relatively short period of time.
It is vital that parents take responsibility in ensuring that not only are their children wearing helmets every time they climb onto a bike, but are well trained as to how to take all possible precautions for their own safety — and the safety of all those in their proximity.
The nightmare of inadvertently leaving a child in a car is also more dangerous in the summer months.
In this week’s “10 to 1” column, we interview Mr. Joel Yisrael Kleinman, a social worker based in Lakewood, New Jersey, who has created a product intended to address the danger of parents forgetting their children in a parked car. As Mr. Kleinman explains, when there is even the slightest change in schedule or circumstances, even the most responsible parents sometimes forget their young children in cars. Fortunately, they usually realize this within a minute or so, and the child is safe, but the possibility of forgetting is very real and prevalent.
In addition to the brightly colored bracelet he has produced and is distributing free of charge, there are sensors that a technician can install in a car that trigger an alarm if a child is left in a car, which can result in a tragedy within a short span of time.
“Don’t talk to strangers” is an important year-round lesson, but it is especially true in the summer months, when youngsters often play outside for longer periods of time. Almost every summer there is at least one case of a would-be abductor who attempts to lure a child into a car. Two common strategies that children must be made aware of: being offered candy or being asked for directions or information.
In this matter, communication is crucial. Children must be tactfully taught that dangers posed by those who commit crimes against children exist and trained in the proper way to deal with them. Emphasize to your children that they will never be reprimanded or blamed for revealing something that happened, and again and again remind them that anyone who tries to tell them to hide something from their parents intends to do harm.
If children are asked to do something that they feel uncertain or uncomfortable about, they should insist on contacting a parent immediately. When this is not possible, they should be instructed to turn to an adult in authority.
In the merit of undertaking our requisite hishtadlus for our children, may Hashem protect all His children from all harm. n