The first day of summer is Wednesday, June 21.
But with the hot weather we’ve been having, you would think that it’s already here!
Summertime is the time for the outdoors, festivals, swimming, and sunshine! But it’s also time for heat illnesses, visits to the emergency room, and emergencies in the water. So we’ve brought you Summer Safety Tips from the NSC (National Safety Council) that will keep you and your family safe this summer!
Beat the Heat
Being out in the sun and over-exerting yourself can lead to heat illnesses and those are something that you definitely don’t want to mess with. Some heat-related illnesses include: heatstroke (the most severe), heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Those most at risk include:
- infant and young children
- elderly people
- individuals with heart or circulatory problems or other long0term illnesses
- people who work outdoors
- athletes and people who like to exercise – especially beginners
- individuals taking medications that alter sweat production
- alcoholics an drug abusers
Heatstroke can occur when the ability to sweat fails and body temperatures rise quickly. The brain and vital organs are effectively “cooked” as body temperatures rise to a dangerous level in a matter of minutes. Heatstroke is often fatal, and those who do survive may have permanent damage to their organs.
Someone experiencing heatstroke will have extremely hot skin, and an altered mental state, ranging from slight confusion to come. Seizures also can result. Ridding the body of excess heat is crucial for survival.
- Move the person into a half-sitting position in the shade
- Call for emergency medical help immediately
- If humidity is below 75%, spray the victim with water and fam the vigorously; if humidity is about 75%, apply ice to neck, armpits or groin
- Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen
- Do not give the victim anything to drink
When the body loses an excessive amount of salt and water, heat exhaustion can set in. People who work outdoors and athletes are particularly susceptible.
Symptoms are similar to those of the flu and can include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and, sometimes, diarrhea. Other symptoms include profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse and normal or slightly elevated body temperature.
Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heatstroke, so make sure to treat the victim quickly.
- Move them to a shaded or air-conditioned area
- Give them water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages
- Apply wet towels or having them take a cool shower
Heat cramps are muscle spasms that usually affect the legs or abdominal muscles, often after physical activity. Excessive sweating reduces salt levels in the body, which can result in heat cramps.
Workers or athletes with pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs should not return to work for a few hours. Instead:
- Sit or lie down in the shade.
- Drink cool water or a sports drink.
- Stretch affected muscles.
- Seek medical attention if you have heart problems or if the cramps don’t get better in an hour.
Heat-related Illness Prevention
The best way to avoid a heat-related illness is to limit exposure outdoors during hot days. Air conditioning is the best way to cool off, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Also:
- Drink more liquid than you think you need and avoid alcohol
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing and a hat
- Replace salt lost from sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks
- Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Wear sunscreen; sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself
- Pace yourself when you run or otherwise exert your body
The CDC also offers more information on heat-related illness in the FAQ.
The Bugs are Out
Summertime means mosquitoes. These little buggers always manage to take a bite out of warm-weather fun, but now they pose a great threat with their bites that can carry the dangers of Zika virus, West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
Zika: What You Need to Know
Zika is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, aggressive biters that can strike during the day and at night. Anyone who lives in or travels to an area with Zika and has not already been infected can get the disease. Locations include: parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, Central and South America, Mexica and the continental United States.
Many people won’t show symptoms, while others may have mild symptoms: fever, rash, conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) and muscle pain or headache lasting two to seven days, that can be treated with rest, fluids and acetaminophen, according to the World Health Organization.
Zika has been linked to causing microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. In infants, a small head due to abnormal brain development is the defining characteristic of microcephaly. Guillain-Barré, characterized by the body’s immune system attacking the peripheral nervous system, typically affects adults and can result in paralysis.
The CD has provided this infographic: Top 5 Things Everyone Needs to Know About ZIKA
- Zika can be sexually transmitted; if your partner lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, it is recommended you abstain from sex for a period ranging from eight weeks to six months, or use a condom
- Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika
- During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be passed from an infected person to a mosquito, which can then can spread the disease to others
Employers need to identify those at greatest risk for Zika, including:
- Outdoor workers
- Business travelers
- Cruise line workers
- Mosquito control workers
- Healthcare and laboratory workers
Employers should provide education about the risk of Zika and other mosquito-borne illness, supply mosquito repellant and furnish clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide. In medical centers and labs, be sure employees strictly adhere to procedures regulating the use of needles and wear personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, masks and eye protection.
- To prevent mosquito bites, use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellant with DEET and wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants
- Read product labels when using insect repellant and apply as directed
- Do not leave doors or windows propped open
- Once a week, scrub or empty planters, birdbaths, vases and flowerpot saucers; mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water
- Use EPA-approved indoor and outdoor flying insect spray or foggers
- Turn on air conditioning; mosquitoes prefer warm, damp and dark spaces
Bing, Bang, Boom
Summer is firework season. And as much as we’d like grab a blanket and a patch of lawn and kick back and watch someone else handle the firework show, there are those of us out there that must just do it ourselves.
In 2013, eight people died and about 11,400 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, 40 percent were from legal, less powerful devices.
Fireworks also are responsible for thousands of home fires each year. The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2011, fireworks caused about 1,200 structure fires.
So here’s a list of some of the most common firework injuries:
Every year, young children can be found along parade routes and at festivals with sparklers in hand, but they are a lot more dangerous than most people think. Parents don’t realize they burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and many children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet.
These small rockets are attached to a stick, lit by a fuse and typically fired from a bottle. Teens have been known to have bottle rocket wars, firing them at one another and causing chest, head and eye injuries.
Firecrackers are designed to explode on the ground. They are often linked together by one long fuse and explode in a series. They are designed to be very noisy, but they also can cause burns and other serious injuries.
Roman candles eject multiple exploding shells from a tube the user holds in his or her hand. There have been numerous reports of children losing fingers, severe burns and other injuries, which are sometimes caused when the device gets jammed.
Two Words About M-class Fireworks
You hear them go off every year: M-80s, M-100s, even M-250s. The unmistakable explosions associated with these devices can rattle the windows of homes for blocks. They are produced illegally and without quality control, have short fuses and cause hundreds of extremely severe injuries each year.
If They’re Legal
If fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, be sure to follow the following safety tips:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
Fun in the Sun… and Water
What a better way to cool off from the summer heat than a dip in the water! But just as you need to be safe out in the sun, you need to be safe in the water. While drowning is more common for children 5 and younger, it’s the second leading cause of death for people age 5-24. According to NSC data, 737 people age 5 to 24 drowned in 2014.
Some safety precautions swimmers should keep in mind include:
Don’t go in the water unless you know how to swim; swim lessons are available for all ages
- Never swim alone
- Learn CPR and rescue techniques
- Make sure the body of water matches your skill level; swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents
- If you do get caught in a current, don’t try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free
- Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard
- Don’t push or jump on others
- Don’t dive in unfamiliar areas
- Never drink alcohol when swimming; alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings, according to KidsHealth.org
The Younger the Child, the Greater the Risk
Don’t let “I only looked away for a second” haunt you if tragedy strikes. NSC statistics point to drowning as a leading cause of death for young children – mostly due to children falling into a pool or being left alone in the bathtub.
Parents are cautioned all the time about water safety, but drownings still occur. Always be aware and be in the present moment with your children. Following are a few water safety precautions:
- Never leave your child alone; if you have to leave, take your child with you
- Find age-appropriate swim lessons for your child, but keep in mind that lessons do not make your child “drown-proof”
- Lifeguards aren’t babysitters; always keep your eyes on your child
- Don’t let children play around drains and suction fittings
- Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, and always make sure everyone is wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets
- Don’t underestimate the power of water; even rivers and lakes can have undertows
- Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy
- Get training in CPR
- If a child is missing, check the water first
Summertime is a time for fun. So get out in the sun, have fun and be safe!
Click on the following for even more summer safety tips:
**This blog is purely informational. Please do not use this to diagnose or treat. Speak to your doctor today.