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Stay Safe While Enjoying Summertime Fun

Ellie Rogers, D.O. Safety

Even though the literal beginning of summer is still a few days away, I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that summer has arrived in Southern California. School is out, the days and nights are warming up, and our thoughts have turned to swimming, picnics and vacations.

While summer is a time of fun and freedom, it also presents some particular hazards that you should be aware of. Keeping an eye out to prevent accident and injury during the summer can help to make sure that this season is memorable for you and your family—in a good way.

Our sunny and warm days, the very thing that defines summer for many of us, can also be a source of danger. I’m sure you’ve heard the warnings about sun safety, but please take a moment to review these very important tips:

  • Stay out of the direct sun as much as possible. If you’re outdoors, look for a shaded area, and spend most of your time there.
  • When you are in the sun, make sure you and your kids always wear sunscreen—no exceptions! A single sunburn can set off a chain reaction that can result in skin cancer even years down the road. The American Cancer Society recommends wearing sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Read your sunscreen label carefully to make sure it meets these minimum requirements.
  • Use clothing to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen (but never as a substitute for sunscreen). To protect yourself from the sun and to help keep yourself from overheating, wear light-colored, lightweight clothing and a hat with a brim.

That issue of overheating is the other important sun-related factor that you should keep in mind this summer. If your body temperature rises too high and/or you become dehydrated, you run the risk of severe and potentially permanent damage to your body’s vital organs. To help prevent this, follow these guidelines:

  • On particularly hot days, opt for indoor activities in air-conditioned facilities, such as movie theaters, malls and museums.
  • Whenever possible, schedule outdoor activities and events early in the morning.
  • Outdoor activities—especially strenuous ones—can cause dehydration very quickly. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids (water is your best choice) throughout your activity, not just before and after.
  • If someone is showing any sign of heat stroke—such as altered mental state, a sudden halt of sweating and/or nausea—stop what you’re doing and seek medical help immediately. Heat stroke can accelerate very quickly, so don’t wait to get help.

With school out, this is also a time of year when kids are outside playing more often. Here are some things to keep in mind to protect your children’s safety:

  • Wheeled equipment—bikes, skateboards, roller skates and so forth—are fun, but they can also be dangerous in an accident. Be sure your child, from an early age, develops the habit of always wearing wrist and elbow guards and a helmet.
  • If your child plays on a trampoline, be sure there is a guard or a net around it. Before your child plays on a friend’s or neighbor’s trampoline, be sure these safety measures are in place.
  • If there is an accident, carefully watch your child’s behavior for any sign of head injury. The warning signs include loss of consciousness (fainting), vomiting, lethargy and sleepiness, a large bump on the scalp or a severe headache. If any of these are present, go to an emergency room immediately.

One of the most important summertime safety issues is pool safety:

  • Never leave a child of any age unsupervised in or near a swimming pool.
  • Never let your child swim alone.
  • Keep away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
  • Make it a priority for your child to learn how to swim at as early an age as you’re comfortable with. If you, yourself, have never learned how to swim, now is the time!
  • Learn CPR. You can literally save someone’s life with this important skill.

My best wishes for a safe and fun summer!

Ellie Rogers, D.O., is a board-certified family medicine physician with Adventist Health Physicians Network—Simi Valley Family Practice.