August 29, 2013
Summer Safety And You
When it comes to summer safety, there’s a lot to consider. Often, we just think about the sun’s rays and the damage they cause, but we also have to think about being safe in what we do, see and feel. We have to consider various aspects of our health when talking about the importance of summer safety. With school out, and families vacationing, safe actions could be the difference between the best summer ever and the worst.
During the warm months of June through September, we often take part in all sorts of activities that we can mainly do during the summer. This includes, but is not limited to, water fun, hiking, biking, skating, fireworks, playgrounds, and even mowing the lawn, playing in a garden, and just generally being outdoors. With each of these activities, we should precede responsibly. For a safer summer, we must know what we are doing and what to consider in each activity. That is not to say that these things are particularly dangerous, but they each pose their own potential problems.
Let’s take water fun, for instance. As the American Red Cross acknowledges, we must all make water safety a priority. The Red Cross has some specific pieces of advice, including:
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to have breath-holding contests.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket at all times! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
- Avoid alcohol. It impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and disrupts the body’s ability to stay warm.
Water can become very dangerous, very quickly, but with a little bit forethought and caution, we all can enjoy a safe summer filled with fun and water.
Obviously, activities like riding all-terrain vehicles or shooting off fireworks have their own set of safety rules, but water activities are something that the vast majority of Americans will engage in at some point during the summer to get away from the sun and cool off. Many of the Red Cross suggestions might seem like mere common sense, but even the most practical individual sometimes need a reminder on how to be safe during summer activities.
Beyond being safe during summer activities, we have to consider our health when talking about summer safety. The obvious concern is the sun and sunburns, especially for children. Their skin is so delicate that too much sun exposure can affect them later in life. redOrbit recently posted some great advice for protecting children from the sun and preventing skin cancer.
- Infants under six months of age should be kept out of the sun completely. Their skin is too sensitive for both the sun and sunscreen.
- Babies six to twelve months of age should dress in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs. Sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside, and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Toddlers should be in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as much as possible. Parents should check the outdoor area where their child plays to make sure there is adequate shade. Also, be sure to provide them with sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect their face, neck and ears.
Health summer safety also means eating right. We have a tendency to want sugary foods like snow cones and ice cream during the summer months, but we should try to keep away from or at least limit our intake of these foods because they are empty calories and too much sugar.
Finally, when we think of summer, we also think of bugs. In the summer, we camp, hike, play on our all-terrain vehicles, shoot off fireworks, play in the water, and just generally enjoy the outdoors because it is finally warm enough to get our sun on. But the warm months are also the time that insects are most active, and bugs pose a particular threat to summer safety for children and adults alike.
Besides just being annoying, bugs can cause allergy attacks, spread disease and just generally be painful when the sting, poke or bite. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides some solid advice about bug safety. Clearly, it is meant for parents to use in protecting their children, but the advice is informative and helpful for everyone:
- Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
- Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
- Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
- To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently back it out by scraping it with a credit card or your fingernail.
- Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, whereas insect repellent should not be reapplied.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET when needed to prevent insect-related diseases. Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus and other viruses.
While the tips above are just a few general starters, it’s important to keep in mind that a safe summer requires caution in all areas of our lives. Let’s not forget to be safe and conscientious in all we do.
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