Tips to keep summer fun and free of injury

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School’s out, and so is the sun. With the days at their longest and brightest, many of us are taking advantage of the season, soaking up vitamin D and spending as much time in the fresh summer air as we can — whether that means planning a vacation to the beach, getting out on the water, organizing pick-up games in the park or embarking on early evening walks with the family.

While summer can be a wonderful time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, Wilson Medical Center is proud to share some key safety tips to keep your summer fun and free of injury and stress.

Heat Safety

Did you know that heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S.? Heat overexposure is especially dangerous for children and the elderly. The good news is that protection from the heat and the sun’s rays can often be relatively easy to manage in contrast with some other weather-related dangers, so it’s crucial to know how to protect ourselves, especially as we enter the height of summer.

It’s essential that we’re heat smart. There are simple steps we can take and tips we can remember to prevent heat-related illness as we enjoy the outdoors during this fun season.

Beat the heat this summer with these cool tips:

• Stay aware of temperatures and humidity levels and modify your activity appropriately.

• Always use an SPF-15 or higher sunscreen that protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays.

• Wear sunglasses when outside to protect your eyes from UV-A and UV-B rays.

• Limit outdoor activities when temps are highest – typically from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of low to no-sugar fluids remember, water is best! Do not wait until you feel thirsty; often times you already have some level of dehydration.

• Search out cooler areas, even when outside. When the thermometer climbs above 90, take the opportunity to visit your local library or community center, or browse a fun store, especially if you don’t have access to air conditioning.

• Avoid enclosed places like cars or garages.

• Never leave children or animals in a car unattended.

• Break out your favorite loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing — summer is about dressing for comfort.

• Take breaks when exercising.

• Limit or avoid adult beverages; alcohol can impair your body’s ability to self-regulate its temperature.

• Stay informed. Check your local news for extreme heat alerts.

For more information on heat safety, check out www.nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/.

Water Safety

There’s nothing that quite beats the heat like jumping in the water. Whether you’re poolside, lakeside or beachside, keep these tips from the American Red Cross top of mind to ensure a safe and fun time for everyone.

• Only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

• Always swim with a buddy, even in lifeguarded areas.

• Never leave a child unattended near water or trust a child’s life to another child.

• Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets when

around water.

• Refrain from playing around drains and suction fittings in the pool.

• Even when not swimming, be cautious near natural bodies of water like the ocean shoreline, rivers and

lakes; currents and underwater hazards can make falling into the water dangerous.

• Wear a life jacket when boating (most boating fatalities occur from drowning).

• Avoid alcohol use.

If you have your own pool or hot tub or live on a body of water, make sure you have reach and throw equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit handy at all times. For more water safety tips, check out www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety.

Travel Safety

When the kids are out of school, for many, it’s vacation time. Summer can be the perfect chance to gather everyone together and hit the road for a quality family get-away. Keeping in mind these hints will help ensure a smooth ride both before and during your time away — at least when you’re not on a roller coaster with “Screamin’” in the title.

• Never post travel plans on social media, like Facebook or Twitter.

• Remember to have all home deliveries like mail, newspapers and packages stopped for the duration of your trip, or have a neighbor or friend you trust pick them up for you.

• Plan on taking minimal cash with you and use credit cards and traveler’s checks while away.

• Set up automatic timers in your home to switch lights and the radio or television on or off throughout the day.

• Ensure that all doors and windows to your home are closed and locked before leaving, and set the alarm if you have one.

• Take notice of stairwells and fire exits when you check into your hotel room.

• Ask the front desk clerk at the hotel if there are unsafe areas to avoid when sightseeing.

• Only take what you need with you for the day and avoid displaying large amounts of cash when making a purchase.

These timely tips combined with a healthy dose of common sense will help ensure your vacation memories land squarely in the fun column!

Lindsay Atkinson is the director of Emergency Services at Wilson Medical Center.