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Summer Safety Tips

The UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers want you and your family to be safe this summer and offer these tips. For more information, call 412-232-8375.
Fireworks Safety
• Though they may be popular with kids, sparklers are very dangerous—and are not toys! They may look harmless, but they reach temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees—the same as a blow torch! A temperature this high easily burns skin and can create permanent, devastating injuries.
• Teach your children that fireworks are explosive devices—DON’T TOUCH! Kids should get an adult if they find an unspent firework. The adult should then notify the local fire or police department. Fireworks injuries can result in blindness, scarring and amputations of fingers and hands.
• It’s just too dangerous to be around fireworks. If you are around someone who wants to use fireworks, leave the area and suggest they go to the public showing instead.
What to do if you are injured:
• Immediately stop the burning process with clean, cool (not cold) water; remove any clothing, diapers or jewelry around the injured area; and wrap with a clean, dry towel. Do not use ice or apply any ointments.
• Seek medical attention immediately.
Additional summer-fun safety tips include the following.
Lightning Safety
Lightning strikes cause hundreds of permanent disabilities each year. Knowing what to do when caught in a storm is crucial to injury prevention.
• If you have no nearby shelter or vehicles, move from hills or peaks, and get to a level or valley area.
• Never lie flat on the ground, and do not use a tree or cliff for shelter.
• Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as wire fences and power lines, and move away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
• If you are with a group of people, spread out.
• Do your best to plan ahead and avoid the storm, and remember—no place outside is safe when storms are in the area!
Inflatable Bouncer Safety
There have been many recent news stories about injuries related to inflatable bouncers such as bounce houses and moon walks being picked up and carried away by the wind. They are popular at children’s birthday parties and summer carnivals. While they can be a source of fun and entertainment for children, they also can lead to serious injuries, such as broken bones and concussions.
Bounce houses should always be secured according to manufacturer’s specifications, and children should not play in the houses during inclement weather or when there are high winds. Adult supervision is always required, and the number of children playing in the house should be limited
According to the Child Injury Prevention Alliance (CIPA), the number of injuries associated with inflatable bouncers treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. in the past 20 years has skyrocketed and now equals more than 30 children a day, or about one child every 45 minutes. CIPA offers these tips:
Injury Prevention Tips
• Limit bouncer use to children 6 years of age and older.
• Only allow a bouncer to be used when an adult trained on safe bouncer use is present.
• The safest way to use a bouncer is to have only one child on it at a time.
• If more than one child will be on the bouncer at the same time, make sure that the children are about the same age and size (weight).
Proper Use
• Take off shoes, eyeglasses and jewelry and remove all sharp objects from your pockets before entering the bouncer.
• No rough play, tumbling, wrestling or flips.
• Stay away from the entrance or exit and the sides/walls of the bouncer while you are inside of it.
• If the bouncer begins to lose air, stop play and carefully exit the bouncer.
Pool Safety
During the sweltering summer months, nothing feels better than a dip in the pool. But when your child’s swimming, are you watching constantly, or do you occasionally run inside for a snack? Young children don’t splash or make much noise when in danger in water, so they often drown in silence. In fact, in nearly 9 out of 10 child-drowning deaths, a parent or caregiver claimed to be watching the child. A couple minutes could cause a tragedy. UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers reminds you to be in arm’s reach of your child at all times, whether they are in or near the water. If they’re a little older, take swimming lessons together. If the pool’s at your home, build a fence to separate the pool from the home.
Summer Water Sports
On hot summer days, there is no better way to cool off, exercise and have fun than to participate in water sports such as waterskiing, diving, jet skiing, snorkeling, surfing or parasailing. A person may be an expert in the sport, or they may be a novice. Either way, UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers urge every water sport athlete to take these safety precautions:
• Learn how to swim by taking real swimming lessons.
• While boating or swimming in open water, always wear a life jacket. No matter the person’s skill level at the sport or swimming, they need to wear one. If someone is unconscious due to an injury, the life vest will keep them afloat and help them survive.
• Never go out into the water alone.
• Watch children constantly. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14. Children can get into trouble very quickly and generally are not as strong swimmers as adults.
The Dangers of a Heat Stroke
There is a reason that people recommend that strenuous activity take place early in the morning or later in the evening during the hot and humid summer months. Not only can you stay cooler, it could prevent a heat stroke. A heat stroke is life-threatening and can happen quickly, with a person’s body temperature rising over 104 degrees. Some ways to avoid heat stroke are:
• Always drink water or sports drinks before, during and after exercise or sports activities.
• Take frequent breaks to rehydrate, and drink fluids (except coffee, alcohol and tea) even if you do not feel thirsty.
• Wear lightweight clothing that can breathe while outdoors.
If you come upon someone that is experiencing symptoms similar to those of a heart attack, such as high body temperature, rapid pulse, confusion and difficulty breathing, they may be suffering from a heat stroke. Get the person to a shady area and apply cool water to the skin. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
Lawn Mower Injuries
According to the American Trauma Society, Pa division, 68,000 people suffer lawn mower injuries each year. More than 9,000 of those injuries affect people under 18. 
• While on a riding mower, never allow children to be passengers. Injuries usually involve children falling off someone’s lap.
• Never leave a mower unattended while it’s running.
• Young children should never operate a lawn mower and should be at least 16 before operating a riding mower.
• Pick up stones and toys and make sure children are away from the lawn before mowing.
• To protect yourself, always wear sneakers or boots, not sandals.
The American Burn Association offers these additional DOs and DON’Ts for outdoor safety.
• Flammable liquid fires result in an estimated 454 civilian deaths, 3,910 injuries, and $1.5 billion in direct property damage per year (National Fire Protection Association, 2014).
• Gasoline is an extremely flammable liquid and vapor—the fumes are capable of ignition up to 12 feet from a pooled source.
• Use gasoline outdoors only, and store in cool, well-ventilated areas.
• Start charcoal grills only with fluid labeled as “charcoal starter fluid”.
• Keep gasoline locked up, and out of the reach of children.
• Use containers that have been listed, labeled or approved for gasoline.
• Fill gas-powered equipment when engines are cool.
• Siphon gasoline by mouth.
• Use gasoline near a flame source, such as burning leaves or brush.
• Induce vomiting if gasoline is swallowed.
• Use gasoline as a cleaning fluid or solvent.
• Store gasoline in the house.
• Dispense gasoline into a portable container while it is located inside the vehicle, or pick-up truck bed.
• 70% of campfire burns are caused by embers rather than flames.
• Fire pits retain heat up to 12 hours after being extinguished—hot enough to cause a severe burn.
• Humans cause nine of every ten wildfires. Make sure campfires are permitted in the area you are in.
• Build your fire at least 15 feet away from your tent, preferably downwind.
• Keep children at a safe distance with a “circle of safety” at least 4 feet from the fire edge.
• Have a small, manageable fire.
• Make sure you have water available before building the fire in case of emergency.
• Talk to children about campfire safety.
• Use an accelerant, such as gasoline, to start a fire.
• Leave a fire unattended—EVER!
• Throw anything other than wood into the fire.
• Build a fire if conditions are dry, or if forest fire danger is high.
• Bury a campfire to extinguish it, always use water.
• Assume the fire pit is safe when arriving at a campsite. Coals from previous campers may still be hot!

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