Summer Boredom Breakers

Stay cool and safe this summer while still having fun with our fun backyard games.


Backyard parties are part of summer. But so are bee stings, heat-induced illnesses, and sunburns. Here are some handy tips on how to handle and avoid these common summer woes.

Batter's All Wet!

+ enlarge image Play water-balloon baseball on a hot summer day.

During summer's dog days, not even a frisky pup has the energy to run to first base. But when the ball's full of water, every hit makes a splash. Give each team a point for every balloon they break. The outfielders won't have much to field, but they can try to tag the runners before they get to base.

Cool Slide

+ enlarge image Sledding isn't just for the winter anymore. Wheeeeee!

Here's another soaker for scorching days. Purchase blocks of ice from an ice dealer, or make your own blocks by freezing water in milk cartons. Place a towel on top of your block to lie on (unless you're really brave!), find a grassy hill, and slide on down.

Dueling Nozzles

+ enlarge image Get out the hoses for some cool fun!

Too hot to kick a soccer ball? Battle it out with a stream of cold water. Each team gets a hose and tries to push the ball across its goal line with the spray. The hotter the game gets, the more creative the defensive strategies. A well-timed body block can be a cool trick. And keep an eye on that back line for hose interference!

Summer Dangers to Watch Out For

+ enlarge image Slurping cool summer treats bringson the giggles.
  • Bee/wasp sting. Don't pull a stinger straight out -- it will release more venom. Instead, scrape it out at an angle using a blunt object, such as a credit card. Then clean and ice the wound. Apply a baking-soda-and-water paste for 20 minutes to reduce the skin's puffiness. If the wound itches, dab a small amount of household ammonia on the affected area. Watch for signs of a severe reaction: a large area of swelling, abnormal breathing, tightness of throat and chest, dizziness, hives or rash, fainting, nausea and/or vomiting, or persistent pain or swelling for more than 72 hours. If a child or an adult experiences any of these symptoms after a bee sting, contact your physician and seek immediate medical attention.
  • Heat cramps. Summer is the time to run, slide, and play catch. But one thing that slows down kids -- and adults -- is brief, severe cramps that attack arms, legs, or abdominal muscles during or after vigorous exercise in high temperatures. They are painful but not too serious. A cool place to rest and fluids should ease the pain.
  • Heat exhaustion. Are you thirsty? Heat exhaustion hits when someone large or small doesn't drink enough water on a hot day. Symptoms include fatigue, clammy skin, headache, nausea, hyperventilation, and intense thirst brought on by dehydration. If these symptoms arise, move the sufferer to a cool, shady area and have him or her sip water. A tepid to cool bath is also in order. Contact a doctor if the person is too exhausted to eat or drink.
  • Sunburn. Because 50-80 percent of all sun exposure occurs before the age of 18, it's especially important for parents to take extra precautions with their little ones' skin, as well as their own. For the best protection, everyone should wear a sunblock with a minimum SPF of 15. Don a hat and sunglasses when possible. If a sunburn happens, alleviate the pain by adding a half cup of cooked oatmeal to a tepid bath, and soak, then apply an aloe vera gel product to the burn. Don't use vinegar or baking soda -- these old-fashioned remedies are drying and make sunburns worse.
  • Remember toy safety this summer. Want to make sure your backyard game isn't on the recall list? Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772, or check out its Web site at www.cpsc.gov for a list of toys found unfit for kids.
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