HCA Midwest Physicians June 10, 2015

Ahhh, warm weather. Longer days, more family time and oh-so-much fun! You can already hear the great outdoors calling. Get the most out of those lazy, hazy, crazy days (and nights) of summer by following some basic safety tips.

Fun in the sun – in moderation

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer while also being the most preventable. The main reason people get skin cancer is they were exposed to too much sun on their skin, especially when younger. To protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and UV protective clothing. Even while swimming, wear a UV swim shirt.
  •  Apply sunscreen that provides UVB and UVA protection with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes BEFORE sun exposure and reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. If lunchtime is the only time you have to be outdoors, seek out a shady route, wear a wide-brimmed hat, load up on the sunscreen and don't stay out too long.
  • Drink water throughout the day to replenish fluids lost during activities. Drink when you are thirsty so that your urine color is light yellow like lemonade and not dark like apple juice.
  • As temperatures climb, never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.

Hit the road – with caution

Whether you're heading out in your car, on your bike or your motorcycle, there are some common safety practices you'll want to put to use:

  • When driving, buckle up, slow down, and don’t drive impaired.
  • Give your full attention to the road – no texting or cell phone conversations while driving.
  • Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • If you’re traveling a long distance, make frequent stops to stretch and refresh.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive.
  • When biking , ALWAYS wear  a helmet. It can reduce your chances of serious head injury.
  • Motorcyclists should always wear full protective gear, including helmets.

Take the plunge – safely:

Summertime is about water activities. Boating, swimming, skiing, canoeing are all wonderful ways to relax and have fun. But water safety is always a must, for children, teens and even us as adults:

  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim.
  • Always supervise children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy. Do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water, including ocean shorelines, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, make sure everyone wears a lifejacket.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages while boating.

Don't let 'em bug you

Camping out, whether in the wilds or your back yard is one of the rites of summer. Don't let pesky summer critters ruin an otherwise awesome time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are some ways to protect yourself and your family from insects that come out in the warm weather

  • Use an effective insect repellent while playing outdoors.
  • Make your backyard a tick-safe zone.
  • If hiking, covering your arms and legs is one way to keep bugs from attacking. It may be hot out, but a lightweight cotton top and pants will not only shield you from bugs and pests, but from damage from the sun. Your head should be covered, too.
  • Check yourself and your children for ticks and remove them as soon as you find them.

In case of emergencies...

No one wants to think about emergencies on the summer vacation, but accidents can sometimes happen. So whether your child is going to soccer camp or the whole family is heading for the Grand Canyon, making a few medical preparations can be invaluable:

  • If traveling, learn where the nearest emergency department is at your destination
  • Keep your relevant medical information including any allergies, medicines, medical conditions, and your doctor's phone number handy.
  • Always keep your insurance card in your wallet or elsewhere on your person 

Summer should be the best of times. Take a few minutes to ensure safety and yours can be.

American Red Cross links:

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/highway-safety

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety

University of Minnesota hydration tips link:

http://www.healthtalk.umn.edu/2013/06/27/summer-safety-tips-hydration-is-a-must/

Mayo Clinic Tips

http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-expert-offers-tips-for-an-injury-free-summer/ 

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/family/kids/summer/

AAD: https://www.aad.org/for-the-public 

courtesy of the Mayo Clinic, American Red Cross and the University of Minnesota Medical School.