Summer is officially here and with it comes many opportunities for lots of fun and excitement! It is a time to be outside and to indulge in the plethora of outdoor activities such as swimming, biking, hiking, barbecuing, visiting amusement parks, and even watching fireworks. However, in the thrill of it all, it is important to be aware of the inherent dangers that may come along in the season. We have to be mindful of the health risks that certain activities may cause and always practice safety so you and your family can enjoy summer to the fullest!
Below are eight summer safety educational topics. Scroll down to review the blog in its entirety OR click on one of the icons to learn more about that specific topic!
This July marks UV Awareness Month! As you soak up the sun this summer, here are some safety precautions to keep in mind.
Learn how to protect yourself and follow these safety tips to ensure your summer does not get cut short by heat-related illness and other injuries.
Did you know that 60% of the human adult body is made of water? Water is the perfect zero-calorie beverage that will quench your thirst this summer!
Summertime means swimming time! During this season pools will be open and beaches will be crowded. Before you take a dip, learn about summer water safety.
There is nothing quite like a summer barbecue. Grill fires can start easily and spread quickly. Learn how to keep your home and family safe by following these safety regulations.
Due to higher temperatures, mosquitos, ticks and other insects are well-known for crashing summer outings. Learn about summer safety tips to prevent bug bites and to protect yourself from other pests.
Summer can be a great time to bond with your furry companion, but high temperatures can cause some health risks for your pet(s).To protect your pet from heat exhaustion, follow these simple guidelines.
You and your loved ones may be planning to celebrate the Fourth of July and other summer festivities with fireworks. To keep yourself and everyone safe, learn the risks involved and prevent serious injuries and fatal accidents.
UV Safety Awareness Month
July is UV Safety Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of protecting your skin and eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. While sunshine is essential for our body to process Vitamin D, UV radiation can be harmful to our skin. The Global Solar UV Index helps to measure the UV radiation level at the Earth’s surface. When the index value is high, there's a greater chance our skin will burn. The UV Index scale goes from 0 (minimal risk) to 11+ (very high risk). These numbers change throughout the day, especially when the sun is at its peak during the mid-day. Before you go outside, prepare yourself by checking the UV index on the weather app through your mobile device. Click the button below to learn more about ultraviolet rays.
There are two forms of UV light to be cautious of: UVA and UVB. Both UV light spectrums are responsible for sunburns and skin cancer. Applying sunscreen that says broad-spectrum with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number is very important. Reapplication of sunscreen is advised every two hours and should be done immediately after swimming. Sunscreen is not the only approach you can take to protect your skin; you can also wear hats, long-sleeve shirts and pants, and sunglasses to block out UV exposure and to reduce the risk of cataracts. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing sunscreen that says:
– Broad Spectrum
– SPF 30 or higher
– Water resistant or very water resistant
The melanin found in our body provides the pigmentation for all of our eyes, hair, and skin. Melanin is made up of special skin cells called melanocytes. There are three different types of melanin including: eumelanin, pheomelanin, and neuromelanin. Melanin provides protection from the skin by absorbing harmful UV rays. Individuals with darker skin tones have more melanin and having more of these cells, means that you are less likely to burn. However, this gives rise to the misconception that dark-toned people do not need to wear sunscreen. People with darker complexions will most certainly burn and be at risk for wrinkles, dark spots, and skin cancer. Check out this website to learn more information about choosing the right sunscreen for you.
Heat, Humidity, and Heatstroke
During the summer, scorching temperatures can cause serious heat-related illness. More than 700 people die from heat-related illness every year in the United States, even though it’s usually preventable. During this time of year, it is important to stay cool, hydrated, and be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses an excess amount of water and salt. This usually happens through excessive sweating. In addition, when the humidity is high, it is more difficult for our bodies to cool off. Our sweat will evaporate less quickly, making it more difficult to release heat from the body. Those who are at greatest risk of heat exhaustion include:
- People aged 65 and older
- Children younger than two
- People who are overweight
- People with chronic diseases
- People who are ill or on certain medications
- Pregnant women
People at greatest risk for heat-related illness should follow these protective procedures: 1. Stay in air-conditioned buildings. If your home is not air-conditioned, spend time in public facilities that are air-conditioned. 2. Limit the use of the stove or oven, which can make the house warmer. 3. Drink more water and hydrate throughout the day. 4. Check in with older relatives and neighbors
It’s important to understand the signs of heatstroke, which is the most serious heat-related illness. When the weather is extremely hot, the internal body temperature rises and the sweating mechanisms begin to slow down. Heat stroke can be fatal and can cause severe damage if emergency treatment is delayed. Heatstroke signs and symptoms include:
- High body temperature
- Confusion, altered mental status
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of sweating
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Dizziness and light-headedness.
Keep track of extreme heat events on the CDC Heat and Health tracker website. This tracker provides local heat and health information so U.S counties can better prepare for and respond to hot weather. Visit the Heat and Health Tracker webpage below!
Drinking plenty of water and fluids is vital during the summertime. Without getting enough water daily we can become dehydrated and develop muscle cramps, fatigue, lightheadedness, and other unpleasant symptoms. Dehydration can lead to serious complications, including kidney and urinary problems, seizures, hypovolemic shock, and constipation. If you are working outdoors and partaking in physical activity then your body needs more water, especially in the heat. Always remember to not wait until you are thirsty to begin drinking!
Symptoms of Mild Dehydration
- Decreased urination
- Dry mouth
Symptoms of Severe Dehydration
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of sweat production
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Shriveled skin
- Dark brown urine
Get immediate medical attention if you are showing any of these signs and symptoms.
Losing Water Through Sweat
In the summertime, your body is constantly losing water through sweat and urination. However, excessive sweating can lead to dehydration since you lose a large amount of water. It is important to replace the loss of fluids by having proper hydration in order to maintain normal body function. This includes drinking water before, during, and after certain activities. The American Council Exercise recommends that adults consume the following:
You can rehydrate yourself by drinking beverages that contain electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, potassium, and chloride. Replacing electrolytes to maintain water and electrolyte balance in the body is critical. Having a Pedialyte, a G2-gatorade, or any kind of sports drink that does not contain high amounts of sugar is essential.
How Much Fluid Do We Need Each Day?
There are different answers to this question, but the truth is that it varies. According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, women should drink approximately 2.7 liters or 11 cups of fluids daily and men should average 3.7 liters (16 cups) per day. It is more important to understand that drinking water is a key component for good health and is necessary for your body to function properly. Water is significant for getting rid of wastes, bringing nutrients to cells, and protecting vital organs and tissues.
Here are 7 strategies for drinking more water!
- Carry a favorite water bottle with you.
- Set a daily water intake goal.
- Drink one glass of water before you wake up and before you go to bed.
- Drink one glass of water before each meal.
- Flavor your water by adding various fruits. Lemons, oranges, cucumber, and different herbs are delicious options.
- Replace sweet beverages with water.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that have a high water content.
Alcohol can increase heat-illness if consumed in large amounts while outside in the heat. Alcohol tends to dehydrate individuals because it is a natural diuretic that can lead to frequent urination and loss of fluid. To counteract alcohol dehydration, drink 8 to 12 ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage.
To ensure a fun time in the water, it is highly encouraged for families and children to learn about water safety, water competency, and how to handle emergencies. Risk of drowning is more prevalent in the summer months. To enjoy outdoor water activities, adults and families should follow these safety guidelines to help reduce accidents.
Learning to swim is an important life skill and can play a vital role in helping to prevent drowning, which is a top cause death among children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 4 and older learn to swim. At this age, you learn basic survival skills such as floating, treading water and getting to an exit point. For information on how to select the best time to start swim lessons and what to look for in a swim program, check out this webpage for recommendations.
To find swimming lessons in your area, contact your local YMCA, city facilities or call 2-1-1. In addition, American Red Cross offers virtual classes for FREE that goes over water safety for adults and caregivers. Check out these resources for more information about water safety and swim lessons; American Red Cross, Fun 4 Gator Kids, and City of Gainesville.
Even if lifeguards are present, you or another adult should always stay with your child. Designate a “water watcher” to supervise children at all times when playing in or around water. Children should learn to never swim alone and without adult supervision, even if they are experienced swimmers. Drowning can happen in just a few minutes, so having proper supervision is one of the most important ways to prevent drowning incidences. In addition, the equipment surrounding a pool can be just as dangerous and can cause injuries. Slippery pool decks, electrical defects, water slides, and diving boards can present major hazards around the pool. To avoid accidents and other related injuries, make sure the area is properly secured and that lifeguards are in attendance.
Know What to Do in an Emergency
Be able to recognize the signs of a child drowning or when someone is in trouble. If a swimmer is struggling to stay afloat, vertical in the water or completely motionless and face down, then the swimmer needs immediate help and 911 should be called. For future safety, keep yourself ready by knowing what steps to take if someone were to drown.
Outdoor grilling is an exciting way to cook delicious food with family and friends. When using a grill or any outdoor cooking equipment, one should take the necessary steps to learn how to safely grill to avoid fires, burns, or other accidents. Understand the hazards and learn to have a safe grilling experience by following these safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Recalls: Check www.cpsc.gov to see if the grill has been recalled – follow the remedy if recalled.
- Inspect: Look over the grill and any gas hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks. Replace, if necessary.
- Location: Use grills outside only, in well-ventilated areas and never indoors, in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or under a surface that will burn.
- Starters: Only use appropriate fire starters and only before lighting the fire. Never add liquid fuel after trying to start a fire.
- Observe: Never leave a hot grill unattended and keep children and pets away from the grill area.
- Clean up: Clean your grill with a ball of aluminum foil or nylon brushes, instead of wire grill brushes, to prevent stray wire brush strands from ending up in the food.
- Extinguishers: Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure that everyone knows how to use it.
Many insects, especially mosquitos and ticks, can carry certain diseases that can be severe and cause long-term effects. Protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, spray yourself liberally with insect repellent, and use Citronella incense when outside. EPA-registered insect repellents are safe for pregnant women to use, and it can be sprayed on after you apply sunscreen. If you are bitten by mosquitos, you can apply over-the-counter anti-itch or antihistamine cream to relieve itching.
How to Prevent Ticks
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, commonly transmitted by tick bites. Be aware of your surroundings when spending long periods of time outdoors. Ticks tend to habitat in grassy, bushy, or wooded areas. Below, you can find more information on preventing tick bites.
The summer heat can not only be dangerous for us, but also for our family pet(s)! Pets can also get dehydrated when it is hot or humid outside. Make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Also, it is recommended that you visit the veterinarian for a summer check-up and for your dog or cat to get tested for heartworm. To ensure your pet is safe this summer, follow these safety guidelines.
Heatstroke is a common problem for pets. Signs and symptoms of heatstroke in your pet are:
- Heavy painting
- Red gums
- Dog fever
Keep Them Comfortable
- If it is hot outside, take walks or runs during the cooler hours of the day.
- Avoid hot surfaces, such as asphalt, that can potentially burn your pet’s paw pads.
- Never leave your pet(s) alone in a parked vehicle.
- Provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your pet(s)
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets
The highlight of summer for any pet is easily the barbecues. Most of our furry friends love to sneak leftovers. However, certain foods can be toxic and poisonous to animals. Any change of diet may give your dog or cat severe digestive problems. Avoid giving out leftover bones, chocolate, onions, and raisins.
Veterinarians recommend that you leave your furry friends home when you leave for Fourth of July festivities. It can be an anxious weekend for your pet. Many animals are scared of fireworks and find the sound terrifying. From the loud noise, they can become lost, scared, or disoriented. To keep your pet safe and calm, check out these helpful tips and strategies below.