Summer is upon us and, even if you are stuck in the house right now because of a rainy spring like I am, the sun is bound to come out soon. With the sun comes pools, barbecues, fireworks and outdoor games galore. With all of these activities comes a lot of fun, but a lot of danger, too. Following these safety tips can help kids and adults of all ages enjoy the summer without worry.
1. Learn to Recognize Drowning
Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children ages 15 and under, and most of those children will drown within 25 yards of their parents. Believe it or not, drowning doesn’t ever look like it does in the movies with a splashing fit and someone screaming for help. If someone is truly drowning, according to Dr. Francesco A. Pia, they won’t be able to breathe at all, which means they won’t be able to speak, either.
Furthermore, they won’t be able to flail their arms around. Instinctively, someone who is drowning pushes their arms out laterally and down, giving them leverage to push themselves up. Once this instinctive response kicks in, someone who is drowning actually can’t voluntarily move their arms at all, making it impossible for them to wave for help. If someone is drowning, their bodies remain upright and they only have about 20 to 60 seconds before they are completely submerged. Learning to recognize these signs can help you save the life of someone you love.
2. Stay Hydrated
Similar to drowning, the signs of dehydration are often tough to spot. We all know that, once our throat gets dry and our tongue starts to swell up, we need water and fast, but there are many signs before those that could help you avoid a rush to the emergency room. The thing about dehydration is that, if you are swimming in the pool all day and not aware of how hot you are or how much you are sweating, you might not notice that you need to up your water intake. Similarly, if you are outside at a party drinking alcohol, you will want to supplement those beverages with even more water; alcohol dehydrates you! A great tip in the heat is that you should be using the bathroom every two hours and your urine should be almost clear. If it is a dark yellow color or if you haven’t used the bathroom in a while, drink a few glasses of water before doing anything else. Some other less commonly known signs of dehydration are dizziness, irritability, extreme lethargy and a cessation of sweating.
3. Wear Sunscreen
Sure, getting that bronzed, beachy look is all the rage now, but at what cost? When your mom used to lather you up with sunscreen at the beach, you might have been mortified by your white nose, but she had the right idea. Did you know that getting one blistering sunburn when you are a kid doubles your chances of getting skin cancer later in life? Furthermore, the sun can case premature aging in the form of sun spots and wrinkles, so lather on that sunscreen. You should be wearing at least SPF 30, and it should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or vigorous sweating.
4. Keep Bugs and Ticks Away
Bugs and ticks can put a real damper on camping trips, hikes or even just backyard fun by causing those itchy, red bumps that seem like they take forever to go away. However, those bug bites might cause even more trouble than you know. Ticks are known to carry Lyme disease, among other illnesses which can manifest in up to 36 hours if the tick is not removed. Mosquitoes can carry disease, too, like the West Nile virus, which becomes a problem after long, dry summers.
The best way to keep these pests at bay is to wear bug repellent with DEET in it. DEET isn’t the greatest thing for your health, though, and should never be used on young children, so try some natural repellents like throwing some sage on your grill or campfire, or using tiki torches or citronella candles.
5. Cook Food Properly
When we move outside during the summer, we often bring the food with us. With summer barbecues comes lots and lots of meat on the grill and, if that meat is not cooked properly, it can cause food poisoning. When grilling on a charcoal grill especially, be sure the coals are hot enough before putting the meat on the grill. Then, be sure to cut one of those burgers open to check for doneness before serving them.
If you are a vegetarian, you need to be especially careful if your veggies are being cooked around the meat. If you’re okay with cooking your vegetarian meal on the grill where the meat was, always put veggie burgers or things that don’t need to be cooked as long on the grill after the meat is done and be sure to wash your hands after touching raw meat. Also, always keep the food that doesn’t need to be cooked well away from food that could contain food-borne illnesses.
Photo Credit: Kymberly Janisch