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Do It Better: Summer Safety Tips

By Joyce Venezia Suss

“Safety first” is a good motto for every day of the year, but summer months bring extra challenges and the need for more precautions. Follow these tips to ensure a happy and healthy season!

In the Water

Learning to swim is the best way to stay safe in water. Regardless of your skill level, no one should swim alone. Swim in areas protected by lifeguards, and avoid bodies of water with strong currents.

Wear life jackets for water activities in deep water and when on a boat – even if you are an excellent swimmer.

Be aware of the condition known as “dry drowning” in which people (especially young children) slip underwater and take in water through the nose or mouth. If breathing difficulties or lethargy develop right after the incident or up to two days later, seek medical attention immediately. This can also affect pets.

In the Yard, Fields and Forests

Whether children are playing or adults are relaxing, use buy spray to protect against stings and diseases such as Lyme or West Nile Virus. If stung by bees, wasps or hornets, remove the stinger by scraping with your fingernail; wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice if it swells. Pay attention for any signs of allergic reaction.

Before hiking, know what poison ivy, poison sumac or poison oak looks like. Follow marked trails, and stay clear of wildlife to avoid attacks. Wear long sleeves and long pants, and avoid any perfumed body products.

On the Road

Many people drive to vacation destinations. Before leaving, check your car’s cooling system, fluids and tires. Travel early or later in the day to avoid the highest temperatures. Bring water bottles on long road trips in case of traffic.

Before you exit and lock your car, check the interior to make sure children and pets are not inside.

For those who enjoy bicycling, wear a helmet and reflective gear, and follow the rules of the road.

Eating and Drinking

Picnics and outdoor parties are fun, but food poisoning is not. Keep raw meats chilled until ready to grill, below 40°F. If you use a wire brush to clean the grill, check carefully to make sure none of the sharp wires are left behind. Put leftovers in the freezer or refrigerator within two hours of cooking – or one hour if it’s above 90°F outside. Discard any remaining perishable food that isn’t refrigerated. Keep children and pets away from grills, especially those with open flames.

Stay hydrated with plenty of water, especially if you are exercising or if it’s hot. Alcoholic drinks are diuretics; if you drink them in the sun, your body may be losing fluids twice as fast.

Weather Watch

Protect yourself from the sun. Apply sunscreen before leaving the house and reapply as directed. If possible, avoid direct sun between 10 am and 4 pm. Wear sunglasses and hats, and long sleeves if you will be exposed for a while. On extreme heat days, find cool places to prevent sunstroke and dehydration – especially for young children and the elderly.

A perfect summer day can quickly turn into a torrential storm. Pay attention to the forecast and heed warning signs. If the sky turns black and the wind picks up, find shelter as soon as possible. “When thunder roars, go indoors” is a rule to remember, followed by “Half an hour since thunder roars, now it’s safe to go outdoors!”

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