By B.C. Manion
It’s summer time – that time of year when swimmers hit the beaches, families have cookouts and lots of people break out the fireworks.
To help you have a good time while enjoying your summer break, we’ve compiled some safety suggestions from some local and national sources.
Lisa Patterson, communications manager for St. Joseph’s Hospital, put together an email outlining common reasons for trips to the emergency room during the summer – and suggestions aimed at helping people to avoid such trips.
The most common injuries seen in emergency rooms during the summer months are sprains, strains and back injuries from falls or sporting activities, according to Patterson.
Other common summer health issues involve heat, insects, water, fireworks and a wide assortment of injuries.
Alcohol-related motor vehicle, boat or jet ski accidents and falls from ladders, roofs or attics, are common causes for summer emergency visits, Patterson notes.
So are missed medications by people who go on vacation and forget to take their medicine. The missed medications can lead to heart attacks, strokes and diabetic and hypertensive emergencies, the email adds.
Other kinds of emergencies involve neck injuries from diving into unknown shallow water; snake and dog bites; jellyfish and sting ray stings; food poisoning from food left out too long at picnics; injuries from lightning strikes and puncture wounds from sharp objects, such as nails in old boards.
Here are some tips from Patterson to help stay out of the emergency room:
–Stay well hydrated, especially when taking medications that are prone to dehydrate such as diuretics, heart and many other types of medications.
–Wear sunscreen with a SPF rating of at least 30 to 45 and reapply regularly. Wear a hat and long sleeves or use an umbrella, if necessary, to avoid prolonged sun exposure.
–Use insect repellent with DEET. Read labels and use lower strengths for younger children. Also, wash it off children when indoors for the day.
–Wear helmets rated for safety by the Consumer Product Safety Commission when riding bicycles, skateboards, ATVs, horses or scooters.
–Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, not sandals, when operating a lawnmower. Keep children under the age of 16 off of riding mowers.
–The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a public display. If you are planning to use them yourself, make sure they are legal in your locale. Never light them indoors or near grass, and have water nearby. Never let children light fireworks and supervise children using fireworks all times.
–Don’t drink and drive. Assign a designated driver.
Vicky Yeakley, public education coordinator for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, also shared some safety tips that she compiled.
–The best way to stay safe is to go to a public fireworks display.
–Do not relight a sparkler that appears to be a dud. Also, keep a can of moist sand nearby to hold the used sparklers. Discard the used sparklers a day after they’ve cooled off.
–If you suffer a minor burn, cool it with cool tap water. In the event of a serious burn, call 911. Do not apply oils, sprays, ointments, ice or butter to any burn.
Water safety tips
–Make sure pools and spas have four-sided fencing with self-latching locks.
–Do not leave children unattended near water, not even for a minute. Children require supervision during all water activities.
–Designate a “water watcher” who will remain alcohol-free.
–Have a portable phone or a cell phone near the pool. A child can die in the time it takes an adult to go into the house to answer the telephone. Also, having a telephone nearby saves time in the event of an emergency.
–Keep water rescue equipment handy including poles, ropes, flotation devices and first-aid equipment.
–Enroll your children in swimming lessons taught by a qualified instructor and, if you don’t know how to swim, it’s a good idea to learn.
–Teach kids water safety habits, which include no running, pushing or roughhousing near the water.
Grill safety tips
–Do not leave objects that could catch on fire close to the grill.
–Do not leave cooking unattended.
–Position the grill well away from deck railings and sidings and from under eaves or overhanging branches.
–Keep the grill away from areas used for foot traffic, lawn games and play areas.
–Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
–Use long-handled grilling tools to protect the cook.
–Remove grease or fat build-up in trays below the grill so it cannot catch fire by a hot grill.
–Be sure to use the proper type of starter fluid for a charcoal grill and do not add charcoal starter fluid when the coals or kindling have been ignited. Be sure to keep the starter fluid away from heat sources and from children.
–Keep starter fluid away from children and heat sources.
–If you have a propane grill, check the cylinder hose for leaks before using it.
–Do not use propane or charcoal grills indoors. If used indoor in or enclosed spaces, they pose a fire risk and a risk of exposing people to toxic gases, which can be lethal.