Summer is a time to enjoy warm weather, outdoor activities, and family fun. Synonymous with summer is swimming, biking, fireworks spectacles, sunshine, and more visits to the local emergency department. Keep these guidelines in mind to help you and your family stay safe this summer.
Water safety. Every body of water – rivers, lakes, pools – and warm summer day offers the prospect of new memories and experiences, but don’t underestimate the danger of water. Follow these water safety precautions to reduce the occurrence of drownings and boating accidents. Never leave children unattended in swimming areas! Don’t swim alone, consume alcohol while swimming or operating a boat and make sure all boat riders are wearing life jackets. Keep a first aid kit and emergency contacts close by.
Staying hydrated. Drink water before, during and after physical activity, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages, sodas, juices and other highly sweetened drinks that contribute to dehydration. If you notice signs of severe dehydration in yourself or others, call 9-1-1 immediately. They include hot, dry, or red skin; fast, shallow breathing; a fast, weak pulse; irrational behavior or extreme confusion; seizures or loss of consciousness.
Bicycle safety. Bicycling is a great summer activity to get exercise while decreasing your carbon footprint! However, take safety measures when riding, especially on roads! Wear a helmet and bright clothing on every bike ride and become familiar with the rules of the road. Examine your bike before cycling to confirm that all parts are secure and properly functioning.
Firework safety. Emergency room visits are commonplace in the summer, especially during the month of July. Firework associated accidents and fires transpire mostly from laypersons endeavoring to use professional-grade, homegrown, or other illegal fireworks or explosives. It’s best to stay away from consumer fireworks and leave the show in the hands of experts where you can kick-back and enjoy viewing community demonstrations directed by professionals.
Beat the heat. Everyone is at risk for a heat-related illness including heatstroke (the most severe), heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. These illnesses can damage organs, cause delirium, and can even lead to death. You can avoid a heat-related illness by taking extra breaks from outdoor activities during the summer, wearing loose and lightweight attire, and consuming plenty of water. Air conditioned environments are ideal places to cool down.
Dr. Mark Notash is an emergency medicine doctor with the Townsend Emergency Medical Center at Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam. For more resources on emergency medicine available at Day Kimball Hospital, visit www.daykimball.org/emergency