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Avoiding Summer Safety Hazards

During the summer months, many of us will be taking advantage of the weather and participating in a variety of outdoor activities. Because of this, sprains, muscle cramps, and even broken bones can be fairly common. But those aren’t the only summer safety hazards active people face.

Insect Bites and Stings

More time spent outside enjoying the weather typically means a greater risk of bites and stings. A common way to help defend against stinging and biting insects is to use a bug or mosquito repellent spray or candle. The most common bites or stings in Pennsylvania are from bees, wasps, grass spiders, and mosquitoes. Most stings or bites can be treated safely at home with topical ointments or creams. However, if you begin to suffer a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.

When outside, also remember to:

  • Check eaves and under decks for bee or wasp nests. Do not touch or throw things at nests.
  • Use an insect repellent that contains no more than 30 percent DEET when hiking or exercising in high grass or wooded areas.
  • Use repellent on the outside of clothing and on exposed skin, but avoid putting it on cuts. For children, put some on your hand and apply to their skin.
  • Avoid using scented soaps, perfumes, and hair products.
  • Check your body for ticks, especially when in the woods or tall grass.

Safety in the Sun

When spending time outdoors, one of the most important things to do is to stay hydrated. In addition to the typically recommended 10 glasses of water per day, you should consume an extra glass of water for every half hour of outside activity. Drinking enough fluid will help to prevent heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration and heat stroke. Symptoms of heat-related illness can include:

  • Disorientation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these symptoms, find a shaded, cool area; apply ice to the body; and seek proper medical treatment.

Also, protect yourself from too much sun. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so use caution during that time.

  • Select sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30, and choose one that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours and after being in the water or sweating.
  • Select sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection.
  • Pay attention to the heat index, which combines air temperature and relative humidity. When the air temperature begins to reach 80 degrees and the humidity begins to rise, limit outdoor activity to less than 30 minutes at a time.

Water Safety

If your summer activities involve water sports or swimming, extra steps must be taken to ensure that everyone stays safe and free from danger. Keep in mind the following:

  • Children, teens, and adults should wear life jackets for boating and while swimming in lakes, rivers, or the ocean.
  • Know how to swim and teach your children to swim. Be aware of the hazards of swimming in a lake or river.
  • Life jackets are the only flotation aid you can rely on. Inner tubes and play rafts are not flotation devices.
  • In public pools and beaches, children should swim only when lifeguards are on duty or if an experienced swimmer is watching.
  • To avoid accidental falls, be sure to cover your pool or spa when not in use.
  • Know the rules of boating safety. Visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website for additional information regarding safety, rules, and how to acquire fishing licenses.
  • Ponds, five-gallon buckets, and wading pools are also potential drowning hazards for children. Empty water from buckets and wading pools, and always make sure children are supervised around water.

With these safety practices and suggestions in mind, you can help make this summer a safe and enjoyable one for you and your family.

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