Food

Why Food Packaging, Kitchen Equipment, and Food Storage Should be Important Components of a Healthy Diet

Eating Healthy is More than Just Healthy Ingredients!

Healthy eating should be about more than just healthy ingredients! While there are many different specific diets, most definitions of healthy eating involve choosing fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits. Refined grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and other unhealthy ingredients are left off the plate. But if healthy ingredients become contaminated with harmful chemicals, are they really healthy? It is time for healthy eating to incorporate more than just ingredients. Healthy eating should also include how the food is packaged and what materials the food comes into contact with while it is being processed, cooked, and stored.

Scientists have shown that chemicals from materials that come into contact with food can migrate into the food under certain conditions [1, 2] and are a source of exposure for harmful chemicals. A recent study found that there are over 12,000 food contact chemicals in use worldwide and identified 608 potentially hazardous substances that urgently need to be further evaluated, whilst many others lack thorough toxicological evaluation [3].

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and the Endocrine Society have pointed to food contamination through processing, packaging, cooking, and storing as an important health issue. The AAP issued a policy statement saying that “scientific evidence suggests potential adverse effects on children’s health from synthetic chemicals used as food additives… (including) those used in materials that may contaminate food as part of packaging or manufacturing [4].” Moreover, the Endocrine Society specifically points to food contact materials as a source of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like BPA, phthalates, and PFAS and reports that the “possibility that low level environmental exposure may still have significant and/or long-term biological impact.” [5]

If the object of healthy eating is long term wellness and prevention, then it is important to include the materials that come into contact with food. Here are 3 areas that should be incorporated into the definition of healthy eating.

1) Avoid processed foods because of contamination during processing and packaging

While healthy eating generally discourages processed foods because they lack nutrients, processed foods should also be avoided because of contamination with harmful chemicals from packaging and during processing. Several studies show that switching to a fresh food diet was associated with lower urinary concentrations of certain phthalate metabolites and BPA (6, 7, 8, 9). BPA is found in the lining of canned foods and in other hard, clear, polycarbonate plastics and has been shown to leach into food (10). BPA is one of the most studied and well-known endocrine disrupting chemicals. More than a hundred epidemiological studies and hundreds of animal studies have been published showing associations between BPA and health effects, including brain development, abnormal neurobehaviors, adverse reproductive health outcomes, and metabolic diseases, and disrupted immune responses (11, 12, 13).

Phthalates are another endocrine disrupting chemical that are commonly found in food packaging and in equipment used to process food. Phthalates have been shown to reduce both testosterone and estrogen levels, block thyroid hormones (5), and some studies have shown they are reproductive toxicants (14).

Recently, more attention has been turned to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of synthetic chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. Several studies have shown that PFAS chemicals are used in greaseproof applications, such as pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, and takeout containers and paper food wraps (15,16). PFAS chemicals are known to bioaccumulate and build up in the body, and have relatively long half-lives of 3-5 years, so there is much concern. Many PFAS chemicals are endocrine disrupting chemicals and studies have shown strong associations between certain types of PFAS chemicals and cancers (5).

Since processed foods are contaminated with BPA, phthalates, and PFAS through processing and packaging, clinicians should advise patients and clients to reduce consumption, even if the processed foods contain healthier ingredients.

2) Use stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel, glass, and enamel cookware and bakeware.

Nonstick cookware and bakeware are ubiquitous in the home. While PFOA (a specific PFAS chemical) has been largely phased out, other similar PFAS chemicals, including Teflon (PTFE) are used in nonstick coatings on cookware and bakeware (17). Nonstick coatings like PTFE break down and release hazardous chemicals, when heated to high temperatures above 400 F, which are common during baking and high heat cooking (18, 19). There is also some concern that small particles can be ingested when nonstick coatings are scratched and flake off, contaminating food (20).

In recent years, silicone rubbers have also been used in items that come into direct contact with food, such as baking molds. Scientists have shown that different substances may migrate into food from silicone, but there are not comprehensive toxicological assessments (21).

In order to reduce food contamination from cookware and bakeware, stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel, glass, and enameled cookware and bakeware should be used to cook food. Dieticians, nutritionists, and clinicians should embrace healthy cookware and bakeware as an essential component of healthy eating. Patients and clients may not need to purchase new cookware, especially where cost is a concern. Community thrift stores, freecycle/buy nothing networks and town swaps may all be used as resources for acquiring healthier cookware, in addition to big box stores and online retailers which stock many of these items at reasonable prices.

3) Use glass, stainless steel, and ceramic food and drink storage containers

Similar to the issues mentioned above, food storage containers can be a source of food contamination, especially with foods that are hot, fatty and acidic. BPA is commonly found in plastic food storage containers, and even plastic containers labeled as BPA-free are not necessarily safe. They may contain similar chemicals without clear safety data, a phenomenon known as regrettable substitution (22). Choosing glass, stainless steel, and ceramic food storage containers is a good way to ensure that healthy food is not contaminated during storage.

Water bottles can also be a source of exposure to chemicals like BPA. A study showed that regular consumption of cold beverages from reusable plastic water bottles substantially increases urinary BPA concentrations (23). Thus choosing a reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle should also be advised. For those who already own an array of plastic food containers and water bottles, clients/patients may ask how to dispose of these responsibly. They can be recycled where appropriate, repurposed for home organization, and/or donated to a community center or school for science or craft projects.

Our definition of healthy eating needs to go beyond just ingredients! Healthy eating should mean limiting food contamination through processed foods, cookware, and food storage. Any definition of healthy eating should incorporate limiting harmful chemicals like BPA, phthalates, and PFAS from contaminating food.


References

  1. Arvanitoyannis, Ioannis S., and Loulouda Bosnea. "Migration of substances from food packaging materials to foods." Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 44.2 (2004): 63-76.
  2. Fasano, Evelina, et al. "Migration of phthalates, alkylphenols, bisphenol A and di (2-ethylhexyl) adipate from food packaging." Food Control 27.1 (2012): 132-138.
  3. Groh, Ksenia J., et al. "Overview of intentionally used food contact chemicals and their hazards." Environment International (2020): 106225.
  4. Trasande, Leonardo, Rachel M. Shaffer, and Sheela Sathyanarayana. "Food additives and child health." Pediatrics 142.2 (2018).
  5. Flaws, Jodi, et al. "Plastics, EDCs and Health." Washington DC: Endocrine Society (2020).
  6. Correia-Sá, Luísa, et al. "Obesity or diet? Levels and determinants of phthalate body burden–a case study on Portuguese children." International journal of hygiene and environmental health 221.3 (2018): 519-530.
  7. Rudel, Ruthann A., et al. "Food packaging and bisphenol A and bis (2-ethyhexyl) phthalate exposure: findings from a dietary intervention." Environmental health perspectives 119.7 (2011): 914-920.
  8. Serrano, Samantha E., et al. "Phthalates and diet: a review of the food monitoring and epidemiology data." Environmental Health 13.1 (2014): 1-14.
  9. Peng, Chiung-Yu, et al. "Canned food intake and urinary bisphenol a concentrations: a randomized crossover intervention study." Environmental Science and Pollution Research 26.27 (2019): 27999-28009.
  10. Schecter, Arnold, et al. "Bisphenol a (BPA) in US food." Environmental science & technology 44.24 (2010): 9425-9430.
  11. Vandenberg LN, Ehrlich S, Belcher SM, Ben-Jonathan N, Dolinoy DC, Hugo ER, Hunt PA, Newbold RR, Rubin BS, Salli KS, Soto AM, Wang H-S, vom Saal FS. Low dose effects of Bisphenol A: An integrated review of in vitro, laboratory animal and epidemiology studies. Endocrine Disruptors. 2013;1:e26490.
  12. Gore AC, Chappell VA, Fenton SE, Flaws JA, Nadal A, Prins GS, Toppari J, Zoeller RT. EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. Endocr Rev. 2015;36(6):E1-150.
  13. Rochester, Johanna R. "Bisphenol A and human health: a review of the literature." Reproductive toxicology 42 (2013): 132-155.
  14. Kay VR, Chambers C, Foster WG. Reproductive and developmental effects of phthalate diesters in females. Critical reviews in toxicology. 2013;43(3):200-219.
  15. Schaider, Laurel A., et al. "Fluorinated compounds in US fast food packaging." Environmental science & technology letters 4.3 (2017): 105-111
  16. Susmann, Herbert P., et al. "Dietary habits related to food packaging and population exposure to PFASs." Environmental health perspectives 127.10 (2019): 107003.
  17. https://www.ecocenter.org/healthy-stuff/pages/what’s-cooking
  18. Schlummer, Martin et al. “Emission of perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCA) from heated surfaces made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) applied in food contact materials and consumer products.” Chemosphere vol. 129 (2015): 46-53.
  19. Sinclair, et al. “Quantitation of gas-phase perfluoroalkyl surfactants and fluorotelomer alcohols released from nonstick cookware and microwave popcorn bags.” Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Feb 15;41(4):1180-5.
  20. Lohmann, Rainer, et al. "Are fluoropolymers really of low concern for human and environmental health and separate from other PFAS?." Environmental Science & Technology54.20 (2020): 12820-12828.
  21. https://www.foodpackagingforum.org/food-packaging-health/silicones
  22. Trasande, Leonardo. "Exploring regrettable substitution: replacements for bisphenol A." The Lancet Planetary Health 1.3 (2017): e88-e89.
  23. Carwile, Jenny L., et al. "Polycarbonate bottle use and urinary bisphenol A concentrations." Environmental health perspectives 117.9 (2009): 1368-1372.
Roundups

Non-Toxic School Lunch Packing Essentials

Get ready for school with these eco-friendly options

Packing lunches for school is a lot of work! We know from firsthand experience how hard it can be to pack something nutritious that your kids will actually eat. Plus if you're trying to reduce the amount of food packaging or plastic waste in your kid's lunch, it can just seem overwhelming. To make things easier, we rounded up our favorite non-toxic school lunch packing essentials. We included stainless steel lunchboxes, a hot food container, snack containers and bags, reusable food wrap, and a couple of cute and functional lunch bags. All of these items are free of lead, phthalates (commonly found in vinyl), BPA, and PFAS (Teflon-like chemicals). Check out these lunch packing essentials and get inspired to pack the best lunches ever.

a) Lunchbots Large Stainless Steel Lunch Container

Lunchbots is a great stainless steel bento container that will last for years. This one has 5 compartments for every type of lunch and snack combo you can come up with. You can get dip condiment containers that are leak proof that neatly fit inside. Lunchbots also has smaller containers for snacks that you should check out as well.

b) Planetbox Lunchbox

This stainless steel lunch box is easy for kids to open with a simple latch. The lunchbox comes with containers for wet foods and dips and you can buy extra dividers. The different compartments make it easy to pack a variety of foods. We love how it comes with magnets on the cover so that kids can customize the look. Planetbox also has an insulated carry bag, just make sure to pick one of the patterns that is made without a PFAS durable water repellent. Planetbox also has a smaller sized box for snacks or for little ones.

c) Bentgo Kids Stainless Steel

Bentgo is a favorite bento container that now comes in stainless steel! The silicone lining on the lid makes it leak resistant as and the latches make the container easy to open. It comes with 3 compartments and an extra silicone container.

d) Thermos Stainless Steel Insulated Food Jar

This container keeps food hot for 5 hours and is perfect for days when soup or mac n cheese are on the menu. The handle make it convenient to carry and helps kids open the top.

e) Stasher bags

Stasher bags are so popular for a reason! Say goodbye to single use plastic bags and say hello to a reusable food packing essential that comes in lots of fun colors. We particularly love the sandwich and snack sizes and use them daily.

f) Zip Top Snack Containers

These Zip Top container are as convenient to use as they are cute! We love how they sit flat and are easy to open for small hands. They are perfect for some sliced fruit or any loose snack.

g) Ukonserve Round Nesting Trio Stainless Steel Containers

These snack containers come with see through lids so that kids know what's inside. The are great for snacks, or use all three to pack a bento style lunch. They also nest for easy storage.

h) If you care Sandwich Bags

Sometimes you need a disposable sandwich or snack bag. No judgement! These If You Care unbleached sandwich bags are made of greaseproof, nonstick paper which is biodegradable, compostable, and microwave safe. Perfect for a cookie, sandwich, or other dry snack.

i) Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wrap

Replace plastic wrap with this sustainable alternative. Bee's Wrap is made from GOTS Certified organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. We love wrapping up snacks, sandwiches, and cut up fruits and veggies in these.

j) Fluf Lunch Bag

This organic cotton canvas lunch bag is fully machine washable! The interior is lined with a food safe water resistant lining (free of PFAS, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals) and has a pocket for a ice pack. The bag comes in so many cute prints and has a very durable canvas handle.

k) Fjallraven Kanken Mini Cooler

This well insulated lunch bag is made of durable, waxed fabric that is PFAS free! Bonus that the the fabric is made from recycled plastic. It comes in lots of cute colors and is sure to be a favorite for kids of all ages.

l) Petit Collage

A roomy insulated lunch box that is easy to wipe clean thanks to a biodegradable laminate made from sugar cane. It comes in several cute patterns and comes with a handle or a strap.

m) Ukonserve insulated lunch bag

This lunch bag is made from recycled plastic bottles and is free of PFAS, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals. It holds ups well to daily use and is roomy enough to pack a lunch plus snacks.

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Family

The 3 Easiest Things You Can Do for a Non-Toxic Pregnancy

Some no brainer, healthier swaps for you and baby

First off, congrats! Feeling overwhelmed? Excited but nervous? Well, fear not! You have plenty of time to set up your nursery, nest a bit, and even think of some names. But right now, it's time to take care of yourself. At this point, that is the best way to take care of your baby.

We've narrowed it down to the 3 easiest changes you can make that will help you have a non-toxic pregnancy. We promise, they are relatively no brainer swaps that have been shown to impact the health of your growing baby. If you start now, these are all things you will want to do once the baby is born, so you'll have created some healthy habits.

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Roundups

Non-Toxic Paints for Your Nursery or Kids' Rooms

Baby safe and kid safe paints that are zero VOC and APE free

Painting and decorating a nursery is one of the best parts of waiting for a little one. Or adding a splash of color when making the transition from nursery to little kid room is also super fun. Whether you're painting just one accent wall, the entire room, or an unfinished pieces of furniture in just the perfect shade, it's important to pick a paint that not only looks good, but is baby and kid safe. Paint fumes and chemical additives can linger and baby's systems are especially vulnerable and sensitive. Luckily, there are safer paints on the market so that you can feel good about using them so close to where your little ones will sleep.

Best Practices While Painting

First things first- how to paint. Who paints a room and how the room is painted is super important in protecting your health. If you're currently pregnant, ask your partner or a friend to do the painting for you. You definitely don't need to be exposed to paint fumes while you're still growing a little person. You're doing enough as is! Also make sure there are no toddlers around while painting. Although having a little helper would be really cute, toddlers are in a critical developmental period and are especially susceptible to the negative effects of paint fumes. Plus you probably don't want anything with wet paint on it to become a messy toy!

It's also critical to ventilate as much as you can while painting. Have all windows and doors open and a fan running if possible. Even a box fan in the corner will help! When you're not using the paint (whether it's a small break or overnight), keep the lid sealed securely on the container. This will prevent emissions from escaping while the paint isn't in use.

What to Look for in a Safe Paint

Now that you know how to paint, which paint should you use? There are a ton of paints on the market right now that all boast different features. Who knew there were so many different paint finishes?! But here's what you really need to be on the lookout for:

  1. Zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are toxic gasses that are released from solids or liquids. Basically they are released when paint dries. You know, the weird new paint smell? Well VOCs can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat but repeated and long term exposure can cause cancer and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system (1). Also, the pigments added to paints can have VOCs, particularly darker pigments, so be on the lookout for paint with zero VOC colorants.
  2. Look for APE- free paints. Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) are a group of chemicals that are suspected endocrine disruptors (a.k.a these little guys mess up how hormones should normally work in the body) (2). You don't want those around babies or children or when you're breastfeeding. APE-free paint can be found easily, so just ask or look on the label.
  3. Avoid paints that are advertised as antimicrobial. Many paints contain a preservative to keep the paint fresh during storage, but paints that are advertised as antimicrobial may have other additives that are really just not necessary and there are no standards for efficacy (like does it actually kill harmful germs? And for how long?) It might sound good, but in reality they are also harmful to humans and don't do much (3).

Our Baby Safe and Kid Safe Paint Recommendations

Our recommendations will take the guesswork out of choosing a non-toxic paint brand, although you'll still have to pick the color! These paints are all zero VOCs and are free of APEs. In addition to the standard latex paints, we also included 2 options for milk paint, which are made from milk proteins and pigments. Milk paints are a bit more work to use, but are easy to use once you get the hang of it and you can create antique or smooth finishes. They are also great for painting furniture and decorations. No matter which paint brand you pick, you can feel safe about using them.

a) AFM Safecoat Zero VOC- This paint was designed specifically for those with allergies, asthma, and chemical sensitive. It comes in flat, pearl, eggshell, and semi-gloss finishes. Zero VOC, zero VOC colorants, APE free, and contains no mildewcides and fungicides. All ingredients are disclosed and the paint is SCS certified for indoor advantage gold.

b) Benjamin Moore Eco Spec- Benjamin Moore recently stopped making their Natura paint, but their Eco Spec paint is very similar and available nationally. Zero VOC, zero VOC colorants, and APE free. It is Green Seal 11 certified. It does contain isothiazolinone compounds to inhibit the growth of mold or mildew on the surface of the paint film.

c) Clare Paint- This paint come in specific designer curated colors, which can really help if you can't pick a color! Zero VOC, zero VOC colorants, and the eggshell and semi-gloss paints are APE free. It is also Greenguard Gold certified. It does contain a mildewcide to inhibit the growth of mildew.

d) Lullaby paints or ECOS paints- ECOS paint, which also makes their Lullaby paint line is a great zero VOC paint, with zero VOC colorants, APE free, and contains no algicides, mildewcides, and rust inhibitors. They have a color catalogue or you they can color match any national brand. They have both a Declare label and a Health Product Declaration in which they disclose all ingredients. Declare labels are issued to products disclosing ingredient inventory, sourcing and end of life options. Health Product Declarations are third party verified and include the health impact of all product ingredients.

e) Sherwin Williams Harmony- A zero VOC paint, zero VOC colorant paint that is available nationally. The primer and flat finishes are APE free. The paints are also Greenguard Gold certified. It does contain anti-microbial agents that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the paint surface.

f) Real Milk Paint- A natural paint option where the main ingredient is casein (milk protein). It comes as a powder that you mix it with water. The ingredients are casein (milk protein), calcium lime, natural pigment colors, and an edible plant based filler

g) Old Fashioned Milk Paint Farmhouse Finishes Safe Paint- This line of milk paint is formulated especially for painting walls. It comes as a powder that you mix with water. The ingredients are casein(milk protein), calcium hydroxide, chalk, clay, natural pigments, natural salts, and crystalline silica.

Updated for 2022!

Your little one deserves a crib that is both good looking and healthy. While we can't promise they will sleep through the night, we can promise that these cribs aren't covered in harsh chemicals or releasing large amounts of potentially dangerous fumes into your baby's room. We all want a nursery that will be a nurturing and loving place so that our babies can grow up strong and healthy. So we did our research and found all the highest rated cribs and then limited our picks to cribs that are GREENGUARD Gold certified, meaning they have been tested and meet stringent chemical and VOC emissions standards. That means your baby can sleep without fumes damaging their fragile lungs or irritating their eyes. And when your little one starts chewing on the rails, you can be rest assured that these paints and finishes are safe. We also included a non-toxic budget crib, which is a solid-wood choice from Ikea. While you are looking for a safe crib, you might also want to peruse our roundup of safe crib mattresses, to double down on the safest of safe sleeping places for your kiddos.

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Roundups

14 Essentials for Packing a Plastic Free Lunch

our favorite reusable items for packing lunch for the kids (and yourself!)

As many of us are headed back to the office, it's time to get ready to start getting creative when it comes to packing lunches. Getting takeout for lunch every now and then is great, but it's expensive and there's just so much trash generated! Packing lunch is great for your wallet and for the planet, especially if you invest in some plastic free lunch packing essentials. While plastic sandwich bags and plastic containers may be convenient, they aren't the healthiest and are only adding to the plastic problem in our oceans. Instead, stock up on some of these reusable lunchbox essentials made from stainless steel, glass, wax, silicone, and cotton. Whether you're packing leftovers, a simple sandwich, or a salad, we've got you covered. Our plastic free lunch packing essentials are reusable, washable, and healthier than a bag full of plastic containers. We also have a roundup of general food storage containers you might want to check out.

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Roundups

Healthier Food Storage Containers

Plastic free jars, boxes, and wraps!

Updated for 2022!

We scoured the internet finding an assortment of safer and healthier ways to keep your leftovers and meal prep ingredients fresh. All of these options are sustainable, have many glowing reviews, and are easily available. We also have a roundup more specifically for packing lunch you might also want to check out too!

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Life

Your Summer Guide to Water Safety

How to Promote Fun and Prevent Drowning

Summer has arrived! Cue the backyard BBQs, ice cream sandwiches (or DIY popsicles), and Will Smith jams. During long, hot days, water activities are basically a necessity for creating fun memories and staying cool. Unfortunately, water-related accidents are a leading cause of injury and death for young children (4). So to keep things fun this summer, let's talk about drowning prevention.

Drowning happens in seconds and often quietly (1,3). Permanent disability can result even when drowning isn't fatal (3), since any prolonged oxygen disruption injures our brains. Though it can happen to anyone, drowning is the second most common cause of death for 1-4 year olds (3). Almost 90% of these incidents occur in home pools and hot tubs5,6 (and anything that collects water, even buckets, poses a risk) (3). To keep the children in your life safe and cool, here are 5 water safety tips as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, National Safety Council, Pool Safely, and Red Cross.

1. Kids' water activities require close supervision at all times

Most drowning incidents occur unsupervised when adults briefly step away or become distracted (4). For this reason, children need vigilant supervision by a designated adult whenever they're around water (4). We can appreciate a relaxing poolside novel or margarita, but the responsible adult/Water Watcher (7) needs to be completely free of alcohol impairment and any distractions (not even Insta). Consider water supervision to be like your greatest Netflix binge – your attention is totally focused, and you don't want to miss a thing. For young children the guiding principle is "touch supervision"– being within arm's reach at all times (3). 5-9 year olds are more likely to drown at public pools (4), so designate a supervising adult even when lifeguards are present (3).

2. Modest safety measures make a massive difference

Physical safety measures are imperative, especially when delightfully curious and unintentionally stealthy toddlers attempt to swim without you! Installing the right type of fence can reduce drowning risk by over 80% – 4-sided pool fences (completely isolating the pool) are far more effective than 3-sided property line fences (3). The safest fences measure at least 4 feet high, prevent climbing, and have self-latching, self-closing gates (3,7). Door alarms and rigid pool covers are also preventive, though their effectiveness is less studied (1). Always check that the pool you use has intact anti-entrapment drain covers (mandated by federal law) to prevent suction-related accidents (7). For portable pools, check out this specific safety guidance.

3. Life jackets are way better than floaties

Sadly those super cute floaty wings aren't designed for safety, according to the CDC, and should not replace life jackets (3) (on the upside, this means less flimsy plastic!). Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacketwhenever near water (1,9). And, regardless of swimming ability, all children need USCG-approved life jackets if playing around lakes or the ocean (2). Life jackets are only effective if they fit well, so check the weight and size limits before using (9). Remember that nothing replaces close supervision! (To help start your life jacket search, we tracked down a more eco-friendly option.)

4. Teach children swimming and water safety

Learning to swim is crucial for water safety. We all benefit from learning how to swim, and swimming lessons can prevent drowning in 1-4 year olds (3). It's never too early (or too late!) to learn – YMCA and community centers often provide affordable lessons for all ages. (We get that communal activities are probably not your jam with the current Covid-19 situation, but, at some point, formal swim lessons could be a fun family activity.) Knowing how to swim does not make us "drown proof" though, so we still need to exercise caution with kids of any swimming ability (1). Teaching children not to climb over pool fences, swim without an adult, or play near pool drains is also crucial for preventing drowning incidents (7).

5. Assess surroundings and swimming ability

Being aware of location-specific water dangers and knowing a swimmer's ability can help discern which activities are safe. Every water activity presents an assortment of fun and risk. Case in point: sprinklers are a simple joy but also an understated toe hazard (been there…). Oceans, rivers, and lakes offer wilder adventure yet can even prove dangerous for expert swimmers – rip currents are an infamous threat in oceans, and lakes and rivers can have undertows (6). Older children and adolescents are more likely to drown in these natural bodies of water (3). Since alcohol can impair your ability to assess surroundings and react appropriately, avoid drinking while swimming or supervising others (7).

Prevention first, but CPR can still save lives

We hope you'll never ever need to use CPR...ever. Prevention with the above measures can massively reduce drowning risk for everyone, but CPR is invaluable during a drowning incident and can improve the likelihood of the drowning victim's survival (3). The American Heart Association provides in-person Family and Friends CPR courses, as well as socially distanced, at-home instruction with Family and Friends CPR DVD or Adult/Child CPR training kits (includes a training manikin and DVD – fun for the whole family!).

With safe water play, we know your summer days will be full of adventure and excitement. Have fun!


References

1. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/03/15/drowning031519

2. https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/drowning/

3. https://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html

4. https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/2020-Submersion-Report-4-29-20.pdf

5. https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/blk_media_SafetyBarrierGuidelinesResPools.pdf

6. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/drowning

7. https://www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/

8.https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/drowning-prevention-and-facts.html

9.https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/swim-safety.html

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