THIS SUMMER, SAFETY FIRST
Summer should be a time of fun and togetherness, not accidents and tragedies. Camping, fireworks, and swimming mishaps keep many hospital emergency rooms busy this time of year. Here are 10 basic safety tips to help lovers of outdoor activitiesenjoy a calamity-free summer.
KEEP BUGS AT BAY
The spread of the Zika virus and a possible surge in tick populations have made many consumers more aware of the need to prevent pesky and sometimes disease-carrying bugs from biting. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using a bug repellent with DEET, but natural bug repellants are also effective at keeping insects at bay. (Find out more about avoiding Lyme Disease, a tick-borne illness.)
KNOW YOUR CAMPSITE
Many of the millions of Americans who go camping each year get lost. Adults and children should familiarize themselves with the location of the campsite, but it's not enough to rely on memory alone. All campers should know how to use a map and compass. A beginning orienteering course can help keep the uninitiated from losing their way.
DON'T SWIM ALONE
A quick solo swim can turn into a disaster, even for experienced swimmers. Regardless of expertise, no one should ever swim alone. The Red Cross and other recreational safety organizations list swimming with a partner as one of the first rules of water safety for adults and children.
Vehicular crashes surge during summer, with August ranked the most dangerous month to drive by the National Safety Commission. An increase in drivers on the road, speeding, and drunk driving contribute to the spike. To reduce the risk of causing or being involved in a crash, all passengers should be mindful of standard safety rules. Wear a seatbelt, don't use a cellphone or other distracting device, and take rests during long drives.
SHIELD SKIN FROM THE SUN
Most people don't apply enough sunscreen, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, which recommends about 2 tablespoons for the average adult body. Effective sunscreens have a sun protection factor of at least 15, and SPF 30 is the minimum recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. Be sure to look for "broad-spectrum" protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Worth noting: Inexpensive sunscreens can also be very effective.
EYES NEED PROTECTION TOO
Eyes need just as much protection from the sun's damaging rays as skin. Too much ultraviolet radiation from the sun can damage eyes and increase the risk of diseases including cataracts, growths on the eye, and cancer, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Even a cheap pair of sunglasses can provide enough UV protection to shield the eyes from harmful rays.
Outdoor summer activities are bound to make you sweat and lose water. Even in the midst of intense fun, dehydration can set in quickly and cause serious health conditions, including heat stroke. When it's hot outside, adults and children should increase their water intake to better regulate internal body temperatures. But drinking water isn’t the only option. There are also many foods that help you stay hydrated.
LEAVE FIREWORKS TO EXPERTS
Many states prohibit the sale of fireworks to consumers, but accidents still happen. Fireworks injured an estimated 10,500 Americans in 2014, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and 11 related deaths were reported. The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers tips on how to reduce the risk of an accident.
Cooking outdoors is one of the many joys of summer, but it's important to know the basics of grilling safely. Grease buildup is a major fire hazard, so be sure to regularly clean grill grates and trays below the grates. On gas grills, check for leaks by applying soap and water to connections using a brush or spray bottle. If bubbles form after the tank is turned on, have the grill serviced before using again. With a charcoal grill, use only charcoal starter fluid and be sure to let coals cool completely before dumping them in a metal container.
Related: Best Grills Under $300
BRUSH UP ON FIRST AID
Summer is the perfect time to learn first aid and life support skills. Many organizations, like the Red Cross, charge for such courses, but there's also an abundance of free information online.