By Adrian Sparrow
When the sun is hot and school is out, everybody runs outdoors to enjoy parks, pools, and playgrounds. With friends, fresh air, and fitness, keep your fun in the sun going with these tips to be safe in the summer months. And no matter if it’s clear or cloudy, always wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn, and stay hydrated!
Heat-related illnesses can occur when sweating isn’t enough to cool the body’s temperature down to its level. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke are some potential illnesses, with symptoms ranging from muscle spasms to fatigue and dizziness to losing consciousness. Most of these illnesses occur when exercising or working outside in the heat for too long. Older adults, young children, and people with certain medical conditions and prescriptions are more susceptible to heat illnesses, but everybody is at risk of life-threatening heatstroke.
The best way to avoid heat illness is to drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes to prevent dehydration and take regular breaks from the heat. Seek medical attention if the person stops sweating or has hot red skin, vomits, loses consciousness, or symptoms last longer than an hour.
Kids aren’t the only ones who run outside when the weather gets warm. Mosquitos, ticks, and stinging insects are a part of every summer. Mosquitos and ticks bite and leave itchy red welts and can also carry West Nile and Zika viruses in mosquitoes and Lyme disease in ticks. Many people are allergic to stinging insects, which cause rashes and swelling and even anaphylactic shock. Prevent bites and stings by wearing long, light-colored clothing and close-toed shoes while outdoors. Use an insect repellent containing DEET and reapply according to the label; remove sources of standing water, and make sure all your windows and doors are in good condition. Be cautious during late morning and early evening, when bugs are at their ‘buzz’iest.
As the perfect place for a kid to be a kid, playgrounds and outdoor equipment give kids (and adults!) the opportunity to run, climb, and explore. To play safely, know the playground rules and supervise children as they’re playing on the equipment. Never use wet playground equipment, as slippery surfaces can lead to a fall. Use equipment properly: play on undamaged equipment, slide feet-first, only use swings while sitting, and stay inside the guardrails. Make sure the playground equipment isn’t dangerously hot, especially metal slides and rails- contact burns can happen in seconds. Never roughhouse while on the equipment, and make sure nobody else is in the way or on the ground before jumping off.
Every summer, parks, and communities host professional fireworks displays where people can pull up a blanket on the lawn and watch. Consumers can purchase fireworks and perform their own backyard shows in some states. Though they’re pretty to look at, fireworks are still dangerous explosives and should be handled with extreme caution and supervision. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, never use fireworks while impaired, wear protective eyewear and only light them outdoors, away from houses, people, and flammable materials. Keep a bucket of water nearby to douse used fireworks and in case of a fire. Consider giving young children glow sticks or confetti poppers instead of hotly burning sparklers that account for more than ¼ of all firework-related ER visits.
Summer is when pools are open, and visits to beaches, lakes, and rivers offer a way to cool off from the heat. Everyone should know how to swim, but even the strongest swimmers can be susceptible to drowning under dangerous conditions. Never let young children around water while unsupervised, even with a lifeguard present. Pay attention to pool and beach rules, and stay out of the water during dangerous conditions like storms or rip currents. Only swim in designated areas and always bring a swimming buddy. Use lifejackets for inexperienced swimmers and everyone on boats. Secure home pools with barriers to prevent unsupervised access. If a child isn’t accounted for, always check the water first, even when it’s not swimming time- seconds count when preventing drowning.