Summer is here, school is still weeks away and there are many terrific options for Soldiers, families and children to enjoy the sun, fun and freedom of this season. Whether traveling or staying local – as you plan to go outdoors and take advantage of warm weather, here are a few tips to ensure everyone stays safe.

The heat is officially here. For the rest of the summer we can expect average temperatures ranging from the low 90s to the low 100s. The sun and humidity may contribute at times to it feeling even warmer. Drink water. Carry a water bottle with you, if possible, and refill it to stay hydrated. Regardless of your skin tone, use sunscreen on exposed skin if you anticipate prolonged sun exposure. For troops and details working outside, take regular work breaks – in the shade preferably, to regulate body temperature. Be aware that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people 65 and older, children younger than two, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. If you feel yourself or see someone else overheating, seek medical attention immediately.

For many, summer equates to pool season, lakes, boating, even trips to seas and oceans, but did you know that many Americans can’t swim? According to the Red Cross, 54 percent of Americans either can’t swim or don’t have all the basic swimming skills. The same survey reported that four in 10 parents of children ages 4-17 report their child swim proficient, yet more than nine in 10 (92 percent) say that their child is likely to participate in water activities. It’s critical to watch small children near any body of water. Approximately 200 children drown, and several thousand others are treated for submersion accidents. Non-swimmers should not rely on inner tubes or water wings to stay afloat; safety organizations recommend swim vests or life jackets, preferably certified by the US Coast Guard. Always assign an adult to keep an eye on children when using areas with water and make sure a lifeguard is on duty when using pools.

If you’re ready to put your boat in the water, be sure to check your boat for all required safety equipment. Ensure you don’t overload the boat, check the weather forecast, and file a float plan with a family member or friend. Wear a life jacket and ensure all passengers wear one. Leave the alcohol on shore – reduce the risks for yourself and your passengers.

It is also peak grill season here in Texas. Per the National Fire Protection Association, 70% of U.S. households own at least one grill or smoker and an average of 10,200 grill fires occur every year. Before lighting the coals, wood or propane, make sure your grill is placed away from any structure overhangs, trees or deck railings. Keep children and pets away from the grill and any heat sources such as lighters or fire starters. After grilling, wait for everything to cool down before disposing of any waste.

Teaching children to stay safe during summer vacation is important – most are naturally trusting and raised to respect authority. Be sure kids always play/walk with friends, never alone. Make sure they know their full name, parents’ names and address, and know to refuse rides or gifts from strangers. Parents should always know their children’s activities and when they will return. For families living on post, parents should ensure their children are aware of and comply with curfew hours; Sunday-Thursday from 5 a.m.-11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 5 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

Staying safe throughout the last days of summer is easy when you stay alert and informed. Whether you are boating, swimming, hiking or grilling, take a few minutes to consider safety so you and your families can enjoy the most out of your planned activities.