3 Critical Areas for Summer Safety

The end of the school year has arrived and kids (and grownups) are looking forward to summer. Free time and nature are enticing you to do more outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. As gratifying as it is, it is important to be aware of potential trouble when you are involved in some of the popular activities of summer. Let’s take a look at three areas of summer safety: activities in the sun, on the water and on a bicycle.

Sun Safety —

Depending on where you live, extra precautions need to be taken to protect your skin from sun damage.

Use Sunscreen:

Wear sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Apply sunscreen all over the body (even in places covered by clothing) 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Sunscreen should be worn for any outdoor activity, even on overcast or cloudy days. Google “Best Sun Screens” to determine which products are best suited for your skin in your area. For instance, you can find a sunscreen that is more effective for the Arizona desert, for the Pacific Northwest, for Rocky Mountain sports and more.

Avoid the Heat:

Get your outside activity in before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m Avoid outdoor activity when the sun’s rays are the most intense especially if you live in the warmer, more southern areas. Know the signs of heat exhaustion which include:

  • Confusion.
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Get the Right Gear:

Wear sunglasses with 100% UV (ultraviolet) protection. Everyone, especially very young or very fair-haired children, should wear a hat. Wear cotton clothing, preferably with a tight knit to keep from burning through clothing. You may want to invest in a neck cooler—a scarf that is wet or iced to wrap around your neck—if you need to be out in the heat for an extended period of time. Search for “neck coolers online.

Stay Hydrated:

Be sure to consume enough water, and avoid sugary and/or caffeinated drinks such as soft drinks.Nothing equals pure water as a hydration agent.  The amount of water that is right for your body depends on several factors such as age, weight, climate, and activity. That being said, the U.S. National Research Council recommends eight to ten eight-ounce glasses a day.

Water Safety –

Every year we hear about children who drown in swimming pools or adults who drown in lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Etc. This does not have to happen. The University of Rochester has given us Water Safety 101 that needs to be read carefully before you grab your towel and head for the water.Their guidelines are below:

If you go boating:

  • Before you leave shore, check weather and water conditions.
  • Do not drink and boat. Alcohol is a factor in many boating accidents. Choose a designated boat driver who will not drink.
  • Insist that everyone wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device or life jacket while on board.
  • Always tell someone where you’ll be boating, when you expect to be back, and what your boat looks like.
  • Keep Coast Guard-approved visual distress devices, such as pyrotechnic red flares, orange distress flags, or lights on board.
  • Do not carry more passengers than the maximum listed on the boat’s capacity plate.

If you have a backyard swimming pool:

  • Enclose your pool with a fence, wall, or other barrier at least 4 feet tall (5 or 7 feet is better). Install self-latching gates that open outward. Do not have anything to climb on anywhere near the gate.
  • Do not assume your child can swim.
  • Keep a portable phone in the pool area and program emergency contacts on its speed dial.
  • Keep a close eye on children and nonswimmers who are using inflatable toys, inner tubes, and mattresses. They could slide off them and drown.
  • Closely supervise children when they are diving or jumping in the pool. Head and back injuries are likely to occur during these activities.
  • Keep the pool’s deck area clear of tripping hazards like toys, dishes, and hoses.
  • Review safety measures and rules with guests before they swim.

Children and water

  • Never leave a young child alone in a bathtub, wading pool, swimming pool, lake, or river. If you must answer the phone or get a towel, take the child with you.
  • Be aware of backyard pools in your neighborhood or apartment building. Your child could wander off and fall in.
  • Enroll children in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But remember, the lessons won’t make children “drown-proof.”
  • Teach your older children that they risk drowning when they overestimate their swimming ability or underestimate water depth.

Adults and water safety

  • Take swimming lessons from a qualified instructor if you’re not a strong, competent swimmer.
  • Don’t swim if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • Don’t swim alone or allow others to do so.
  • Stay out of the water during thunderstorms and other severe weather. During lightning storms, seek shelter away from metal objects, open areas, and large, lone trees.
  • Don’t exceed your swimming ability. Know your limits and stick to them.
  • Check the water level before diving into a pool, ocean, pond, reservoir, or lake. Always dive with your arms extended firmly over your head and your hands together. This can help prevent head injury if the water is more shallow than you judged it to be.
  • Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water, like lakes, rivers, quarries, or irrigation ditches. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head (and breaking your neck or back) on a shallow bottom, hidden rock, or other obstruction.

Bike safety —

Summer is a time when we want to do more outdoors. Many dust of their bicycle and tentatively start peddling down the street. It seems perfectly safe, but look at some of these numbers: Each year, over 500,000 bicyclists in the U.S. are injured due to bike crashes. Around 700 of them die, but 75% of them could have lived if they had worn a helmet, according to Northwestern Medicine

If you are one of the “off-again/on-again” bike riders or you have a child or children who are new to bike safety, go to a bike-safety pro. PLEASE have everyone in your family who rides a bike read everything posted here. 

Your life depends on it.

More Summer Safety while you’re at it

First Aid Kit

Be sure you have a first aid kit available that will deal with bug bites, bee stings, cuts and scrapes, minor pain from little injuries and anything else that can be taken care of outside an emergency room. Plan around special activities and be sure you add the appropriate items

Emergency numbers in your phone

Be sure you have numbers stored in your phone (and some on speed dial)  for:

  • Emergency rooms
  • Ambulance company if you can’t use 911
  • Poison control centers
  • Parents and grandparents
  • Police
  • Anyone you know who may be needed in case of emergency.

And now with all those dos and don’ts about heat, water and bike safety the only thing left is to say,

“Have a joyful, stress-free, safe summer.” 


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