Summer, it's all about fun in the sun, vacation time, bike riding, boating, barbeques, picnics and fireworks, but the season is also the time of year consumers are most likely to become injured, warns the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
So, Patch connected with a team of pros in search of advice to keep readers safe and healthy this summer. The following "Top 10 Summer Safety Tips" were provided by The Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center Management Team: Ben Sigal, M.D.; Cathy Wade, R.N.; Deb Sweet, R.N., and Kerri Skiles, R.N.
- Sun Safety – Choose a water resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher “broad-spectrum” coverage against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply to all exposed skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors and wear protective wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved clothing. Try your best to avoid mid-day sun because the sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Reapply every 2 hours, even on cloudy days and after sweating or swimming. Sunburns can happen within 15 minutes of exposure with symptoms showing up hours later. Blistering sunburns can double your risk of developing melanoma.
- Hydration – It is easy to become fluid depleted in hot weather very quickly. Tank up on fluids before leaving the house but keep water or sports drink readily available. Avoid sodas or juices high in sugar. Drink hourly while in the sun, more often during activities. Don’t wait until you are thirsty: drink, drink, drink.
- Heat-related Illness – As body temperature rises your skin becomes hot and red while you lose the ability to sweat making it difficult to cool down. It is harder for young children and older adults to regulate their body temperature. Certain medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as medications such as antihypertensive and anti-histamines, may increase your risk as well. Symptoms can rapidly progress to include rapid heart rate, headache, dizziness, nausea and confusion Stay well hydrated to protect against this seeking air conditioning or misting water sources as able.
- Bites and stings – Spray yourself with an insect repellant (after applying sunscreen) to prevent bites from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. The best include (less than 20 percent) DEET which can be applied to exposed skin (excluding hands or face) or clothing, but use sparingly on older children as it can be toxic (never on infants or young kids). Alternative options are Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus which should only be applied to clothes (ask for products containing these at your local pharmacy). Call 911 immediately for signs of an allergic reaction which can include: generalized body hives, shortness of breath, swelling of the mouth/face, difficulty swallowing or hoarse voice. For mild stings, remove the stinger (scrap off with a credit card), apply ice to the site and consider Benadryl and/or ibuprofen for pain and local swelling. Later wash the area and monitor for worsening symptoms. For jellyfish stings, rinse the site with saltwater (not fresh water), pour vinegar or rubbing alcohol on the rash (not on the face).
- Ticks – Wear light colored clothes covering your arms and legs when gardening or hanging out in grassy/wooded areas especially with high moisture or humidity. Use an insect repellant with DEET. Do a skin check at night on every family member. Use tweezers (not your fingers) to grab as close to the skin as possible pulling up slow and steady without twisting. Confirm the head and mouth didn’t break off. Wash the area and watch for infection. If the tick is left on for over 36 hours, a tick-borne illness can be contracted. The "Lyme-related" rash shows up a week or two later.
- Safe rides – Don’t forget your helmet when riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters, etc. The speeds generated on even these self-propelled rides can lead to significant head injury if not well protected. No children under 16 should use a riding lawn mower, or drive an ATV or other motorized vehicle.
- Food Poisoning – Food-borne illness resembles the flu and can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Bacteria grows faster in warmer temperatures and humidity. Be sure to wash your hands before preparing food and avoid cross-contamination with raw meat. Perishable foods such as items containing mayonnaise, milk, eggs, poultry or seafood should not be left at room temperature for more than an hour or two.
- Pool safety –Teach your child to swim, but that does not prevent drowning. Never leave your children unattended in or near the pool, even for a moment - that’s all it takes. An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise children at all times. You must put up a fence (at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides) to separate your house from the pool. Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them. Keep rescue equipment and a telephone nearby. Do not use air-filled "swimming aids" as a substitute for approved life vests.
- Play Safe – Check playground equipment before letting children lay on it looking for loose ropes or hot surfaces. The ground should be covered on a protective surface such as rubber or wood chips. Make sure your child isn’t wearing anything with strings like a hoodie or open toed shoes which could get caught on equipment. Avoid trampoline dangers allowing one child at a time and no summersaults allowed!
- Remember Your Medications – When vacationing, confirm that you have enough and pack all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use regularly. Keep your medication, allergy, and health problem list up to date and neatly written for any unforeseen ER visits.