CATES:July means time for summer safety - Odessa American: Health

CATES:July means time for summer safety

By Carol A. Cates, MSN, MBA, RN | Posted: Monday, July 6, 2020 6:45 am

Summer safety is something we should all consider as we venture into the outdoors during the hot summer months for us and for our families. This year is looking very different in terms of how we accomplish that summer fun because of the need to control the spread of COVID-19, but that does not change the need to think about summer safety. As you and your loved ones venture out of your homes during the hot summer months, please keep safety in mind.

July, in part because of the 4th of July holiday, seems to be the biggest month for summer activity related deaths and injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in looking at 20 years of July data starting in 1999, the US had an average of 4 deaths related to fireworks, 4 deaths from skating, skiing, or skateboarding, 8 deaths related to diving or jumping in water, 12 deaths from lightning strikes, 14 deaths related to bee, wasp, or hornet stings, 85 deaths related to watercraft and boating, 153 deaths from heat exposure, 430 drownings, and 3,600 deaths in motor vehicle collisions each July. I know those numbers in and of themselves don’t seem huge when you think about this is over a month across the entire US, but what makes these numbers concerning is that most of these deaths were largely preventable.

Here are a few summer safety tips to avoid injuries this summer season. When it comes to summer sun, remember the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4pm, so be extra careful during those hours. Use a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF and choose one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Experts recommend applying sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapplying every 2 hours. If you are in water or sweating reapply every hour. Keep kids under 1 out of the sun as much as possible, lightweight long sleeves and pants, and always cover their heads. Use sunscreen even on cloudy days and consider sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection. Drink plenty of fluids and take breaks in the shade as often as possible.

If you are travelling, seat belts for adults and teens, and properly fitted and secured car seats or boosters for younger kids. Children are always safest in the back seat of a car. Lock your car doors, both when the car is moving and when it is parked. Never leave kids alone in cars—far too many children have died from heat stroke from being left in a car on a warm day. There is also the danger of a child putting the car in motion.

If water activities are part of your summer fun, remember to never leave children alone near water. A good practice is to have adults take turns being the “child watcher” that way there is always someone holding that role and less risk for distraction. Consider life jackets for young children any time they are near water. Even small bodies of water like backyard Kiddie pools and even things as small as five gallon buckets have caused drownings in small, curious children. Make sure those things are emptied of water if your child cannot be supervised around them. Children, teens and adults should wear life jackets when boating or while swimming in lakes, rivers, or oceans. One of the best things you can do for water safety is teach kids to swim.

Yard safety is important too. Keep children under 5 away when the lawn is being mowed, and never let children ride on mowers or in cares towed by mowers. Consider the age of the child when using push and riding mowers, most experts recommend no less than 12 for a push mower, and 16 for a riding mower. Stow mowers away from small children, small children can cut or burn themselves on mower parts. If you use insect or weed killers on your yard, consult the label to find out when its safe to allow children and pets to play in the yard.

When it comes to riding, bikes, skateboards, roller blades, scooters, hoverboards—basically anything with wheels, a helmet should be considered as a minimal requirement. Remember if you wear a helmet on your family rides, your kids will follow suit. Knee and elbow pads help avoid injuries as well. Bikes should be the right size for the child—injuries are more likely with bikes that are too large.

Brightly colored and floral print clothes can be attractive to bees and other insects, as can scented soaps, perfumes, and hair products. Consider unscented products and more neutral tones for your day outside. Follow manufacturers labels carefully with insect repellants, especially when using them on kids. If you are going in an area where there may be ticks, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, tuck clothing into pants and pant cuffs into socks, and at the end of the day, check everyone who was on the trip’s entire body for ticks.

Have fun this summer! Please stay safe.