8 tips to stay safe this summer!
Summer has officially begun. Sun….surf…the beach….no school. Who doesn’t love the summer time? But as always, sometimes you need to plan ahead if you are going to stay safe. So before you head out and dive headlong into summer, you might want to consider taking some precautions. Here are 8 tips to help keep you and your love ones safe this summer.
1. Avoid the heat
As the weather warms up, it’s important to remember that heat can kill. When body temperatures exceed 104 degrees, heat strokes can occur.
The body will attempt to cool down through sweating. But when sweat isn’t cutting it, the body will begin to overheat. Heat exhaustion can quickly be followed by heat stroke. Heat stroke of course can be deadly. So here are a few symptoms of heat stroke:
- hot red skin
- a rapid pulse
Without treatment, shock will set in, major organs like the heart and brain will begin to swell, and death may occur. From 1999 to 2010, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 7,415 deaths were associated with exposure to heat, an average of 618 per year. Older men were disproportionately affected by heat — 68% of these deaths were among men, but heat stroke can also be deadly for the very young. This is especially true for infants. So keep them out of the sun altogether.
Arizona, California, and Texas “accounted for approximately 40% of all heat-related deaths in the United States” between 1999 and 2010, according to the CDC. A report from the National Resources Defense Council says that heat exhaustion and heat strokes will be a huge issue for this region this summer, especially as the drought wears on.
The best way to avoid heat exhaustion is to stay out of the sun. If it can’t be avoided, drink a lot of water. Extreme heat can deplete the body’s reserves of water. Experiencing mild dehydration is more uncomfortable than unbearable, but it can quickly turn into severe dehydration.
2. Wear sunblock
You are heading outside, you’ve had plenty of water, and you’re ready to enjoy a lovely summer day. Hold on — did you remember to put on on the sunscreen? Sunburns can be more than just painful, uncomfortable and unsightly; a long history of sunburns can increase the risk for skin cancer.
Skin cancer ranks as the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the CDC. In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, 65,647 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin. Those with pale skin and a family history are generally more at risk for skin cancer.
Bullfrog makes a great sunscreen (SPF30) and insect repellent combo. I keep some on hand AND in my GHB. (Get home bag)
Long, loose clothing will help to keep your skin safe from the blazing sun as well. There is a reason that Farasias, thobes, and other such clothing are worn in the sweltering heat of the Middle East.
For a great article on clothing preparedness, click here.
3. Public swimming pools are not always safe
OK, the sunscreen is on and you’re ready to cool down. It’s time to hit the public swimming pools. There are plenty to choose from — 309,000, to be exact — and you wouldn’t be alone. Swimming is the fourth most popular sport; or form of exercise in the US.
But even with chlorine, swimming pools can act as giant petri dishes for bacteria like E. coli, which lives in the stomach and can cause nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The CDC analyzed 2008 data from 121,020 routine inspections and found that one in eight pools had been immediately closed for serious violations, like not having any disinfectant in the water at all.
Another 2012 CDC analysis of public pools found that over half of the “pool filter samples tested positive for E. Coli … a marker for fecal contamination .” Another strain of bacteria that can cause skin rashes and ear infections called pseudonmonas aeruginosa was also detected in 60% of the samples.
4. That goes for ponds and lakes, too
Freshwater lakes and rivers can also be hotbeds for viruses, bacteria, and amoebae. Last July, “70 people who swam in a lake near Portland were sickened by norovirus,” according to CBS News. Over half of them were between the ages of seven and 10. Norovirus, which is highly contagious, can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
The CDC reports that how the lake became contaminated is unknown, but suggests that if a swimmer with norovirus vomited or had “a fecal incident in the lake.” According to the report, “there is evidence that noroviruses can survive in water for several months and probably years.”
A rare, brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria Fowleri is another danger lurking in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. It’s been known to infect people by swimming up their nasal passages. Once inside, it can travel to the brain and cause a fatal infection of the central nervous system called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. Death tends to happen two weeks after infection. “The disease progresses rapidly,” the CDC notes, “so [the] diagnosis is usually made after death.”
As terrifying as the tiny amoeba is, it is extremely rare, which is true for other types of swimming-related bacterial infections as well. Between 2005 and 2014, only 35 such infections have been reported, according to the CDC. Contrast that with the number of times Americans go swimming in pools or other bodies of water — 301 million times every year.
5. Avoid deadly insects
Bears, sharks and snakes have nothing on the smallest, most dangerous killers in the animal kingdom — insects.
Bees, wasps and hornets kill an average 58 people a year through anaphylactic shock, according to the Washington Post.
But mosquitoes are the most dangerous animal in the world, killing about 725,000 people worldwide, according to the Smithsonian. Malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, can cause fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. Severe malaria can cause organ failure and serious neurological symptoms like seizures, coma, and death.
I mentioned the Bullfrog in tip #2. Insect repellent will certainly help. So will draining standing water on your property where mosquitoes breed. And mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so if you can avoid being outside during those times that will help also.
I mentioned long. loose clothing to protect your skin from the sun. They will also help protect you from biting, stinging insects as well.
6. Stay indoors during thunderstorms.
This might seem like a “no-brainer”. But according to National Geographic, “the fourth of July is historically one of the most deadly times of the year for lightning in the US.” Lightning deaths and injuries typically increase in the summer months.
In 2014, 26 people died from lightning strikes. All these deaths occurred between the months of May and October, with the highest rate of fatalities occurring in July, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Lightning remains an extremely rare cause of death. But that doesn’t mean you should not be careful.
7. Careful with those fireworks
If you want your summer to go off with a bang, it’s probably best to let the professionals handle it. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks caused an estimated eight deaths and 11,400 injuries in 2013, an increase of 8,700 injuries from 2012.
The majority of these occurred in the weeks around the Fourth of July. The report goes on to say that the deaths only occurred with “banned, professional, or home-manufactured devices.” To ensure safety, it’s best to purchase only legal fireworks, and to move away from them quickly once lit — or just leave them to the professionals.
8. Keep water safety in mind
I hope tips 3 and 4 didn’t completely drive you away from the water. They weren’t meant to scare, but rather to educate. So if you have no fear and are headed to a public beach or pool, then keep these following tips in mind:
- Keep a close eye on your kids at all times. In deeper water children can go under in an instant
- Make sure everyone has a life jacket or Coast Guard approved flotation device
- Know CPR, or take a certified CPR class
- Teach your children how to swim, or get them enrolled in swimming classes
For more water safety tips, read my article on water and boating safety.
Stay safe out there!