Hello, summer fun!

Whether your family enjoys a low-key day beside the pool or dawn-to-dusk activities that end with fireworks, it's important to play it safe so that summer is memorable for all of the right reasons. Although we’re not talking about 2020’s COVID-related summer safety tips, you should feel free to continue following masking and distancing protocols if that’s right for you and your family. With the pandemic starting to feel like it might be in our rearview mirror, these tips will help ensure everyone has a memorable and safe summer while avoiding a trip to the emergency room.

The great (hot) outdoors.

In Texas, 100-degree temperatures often start the first week of July. With so many outdoor activities, it's important to take precautions from the heat.

Throw shade. Limit exposure to direct sunlight during the hottest time of day, between 10:00am and 4:00pm. A wide-brim hat is more than a fashion statement, it also protects your face, neck and ears, while sunglasses that absorb 100 percent of UV light protect your eyes. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Water resistance

Bottoms up! Preferably with water, even if you're not thirsty. Nearly 70% of us aren't drinking enough water to keep our bodies functioning properly. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can dehydrate so use caution when drinking these. Dehydration can cause serious health issues.

Be aware of heat-related illness symptoms. Strenuous activity can increase the risk of heat-related sickness. Those with chronic medical conditions, as well as infants, children and the elderly are at highest risk because their bodies are less able to dissipate heat.

  • Heat exhaustion symptoms include profuse sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headache, lightheadedness and muscle cramps. Get medical help if throwing up or if symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour.
  • Heatstroke requires immediate attention. Left untreated, it can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Know the signs, including high body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher; hot, red skin; fast, strong pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; headache; dizziness or fainting; muscle cramps; nausea; confusion and disorientation; and even seizures. If you think someone may be suffering from heatstroke, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Watch out for Fido, too. Dogs don't sweat through their skin and fur but instead cool themselves through panting. Prevent prolonged exposure to heat and provide your pet with adequate water and shade. Avoid walking dogs on hot pavement and never leave an animal in a vehicle.

Stay safe in the water. The only way to really stay cool outdoors during a Texas summer is to get wet. Just remember that drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death in children 1 to 14. Even so, anyone could be at risk of a water emergency. Follow the CDC's recommendations to prevent drowning by addressing these main factors that affect drowning risk:

  • Make sure everyone in the family can swim.
  • Put up effective barriers around pools — a four-sided isolation fence is best.
  • Always supervise children and non-swimmers around water.
  • Wear a life jacket when riding in boats or on personal watercraft.
  • Don’t drink alcohol when engaging in water activities or when supervising others who are in the water.

Uninvite the creepy crawlies. Don't let mosquito and tick bites ruin your fun. Most bug bites are harmless, but mosquitoes can spread dangerous diseases including Zika and West Nile. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using insect repellent that contains DEET and reapplying often.

Hot dogs and apple pie.

Don't let spoiled coleslaw or potato salad ruin your day. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans — 48 million people — suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs and don't forget to wash your hands before preparing the food.

  • Keep it cool. Serve food quickly from the cooler and return it fast. When it's above 90 degrees, food shouldn't sit out of the cooler for more than an hour.
  • Cook to temperature. Just because the hamburger or drumstick looks done on the outside doesn't mean it's done on the inside. Use a meat thermometer to cook meat and poultry to a safe temperature. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meat and 165 degrees for poultry.
  • Separate plates and utensils. Use different plates and utensils for cooked food, not the same ones that were used to handle it raw.
  • Preserve the leftovers. Unpack the cooler as soon as you return home and refrigerate leftover meats and salads that have stayed cold. Toss anything that's warm.

The rocket's red glare.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend one of the many professionally produced fireworks displays in North Texas. But if fireworks are legal in your area and the kids are begging for a show of their own, here's how to keep it safe and avoid burns.

  • Follow the package instructions. They're there for a reason, and they're intended to keep you safe.
  • Supervise kids. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. This includes sparklers; they alone account for one-quarter of ER fireworks injuries.
  • Don't get creative. Never disassemble the fireworks or attempt to make your own, and don't try to light multiple fireworks at the same time.
  • Aim at the sky. Never point sparklers or fireworks at yourself or toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Protect your eyes. Make sure the person lighting the fireworks wears eye protection.
  • Pick a safe launch site. Only light fireworks on the ground and in areas that are dry and fire resistant, and never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.
  • Drown the duds. If fireworks malfunction, don't relight them. Soak them in water and then throw them away.
  • Be prepared. Keep a portable fire extinguisher close by, as well as a water hose or buckets of water to put out fires.

Medical City Healthcare provides comprehensive emergency services across North Texas.

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The post Your Guide to a Memorable and Safe Summer appeared first on LifeSigns in 2018.