The hot summer months provide the perfect opportunity to spend time outside, whether it’s swimming in the pool, river, or ocean, hiking in the woods, gathering with your family over a holiday weekend, or going for a bike ride.
As families start planning these summer activities, it is a great opportunity to look at summer safety guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Coast Guard, the American Cancer Society, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Use the following tips with your family to avoid dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, water-related injuries, and many other preventable accidents.
Stay Cool in the Sun
Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet many people succumb to extreme heat each year. Take steps to lower your risk for heat-related illness.
- Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids.
- Seek shade when the sun is strongest.
- Cut down exercise in extreme temperatures.
- Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
- Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer
Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. UV rays from sunlight are the greatest during the late spring and early summer.
The American Cancer Society uses the slogan "Slip, Slop, Slap & Wrap" as a guideline for skin cancer prevention. Going out in the sun anytime soon? "Slip on a shirt. Slop on sunscreen. Slap on a hat. Wrap on sunglasses."
Other helpful tips to reduce your risk of skin cancer:
- When possible, avoid outdoor activities during midday when the sun's rays are strongest. The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for UV exposure outdoors.
- Cover up with clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect exposed skin.
- Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Wear sunscreen and lip screen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Remember to reapply as needed and check the sunscreen’s expiration date.
- Avoid indoor tanning (using a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp to get tan), which exposes users to UV radiation
Stay Safe While Boating
The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims. Accidents can, and do, happen with terrifying speed on the water. There's rarely time to reach stowed life jackets.
Whenever you are headed out on the water, keep these tips from the U.S. Coast Guard in mind:
- Wear it: Properly fitted life jackets can prevent drownings and should be worn at all times by everyone on any boat. Comfortable Coast Guard-approved life jackets are now widely available.
- Don't drink: Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination, and is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities. Boating under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as drinking and driving. Not only is it dangerous to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it's also illegal in every state in the United States. It's not just boat operators at risk from drinking while boating. Passengers are at greater risk of injury as well. Due to sun exposure and heat, both operators and passengers are likely to become impaired more quickly, drink for drink, when on the water. So play it safe and avoid alcohol when you're on a boat.
- Take a course: Boating education courses teach the rules for safe operation and navigation of recreational boats, and can help boat operators keep their passengers safe.
- Get a Vessel Safety Check: The Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is a free public service provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations.
- Know about carbon monoxide (CO): Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that is emitted by all internal combustion engines, such as boat engines and onboard motor generators. In the early stages, the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to seasickness, but CO can kill in a matter of minutes, whether you are inside or outside of your boat. To avoid CO poisoning, be aware of the risk, ensure sufficient ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment, and use CO detectors, especially in living and sleeping areas.
Leave Fireworks to the Professionals
Fireworks can cause death and injury, including burns, contusions, lacerations, and foreign objects in the eye. Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn users and bystanders.
Make the choice to protect yourself and your family from fireworks injuries by using the tips below:
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- If using fireworks, have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
Keep the Bugs Away
Summer is the season of bug bites and bee stings. Use the following tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to repel insects and insect-related diseases:
- Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
- Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods, and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
- If possible, eliminate stagnant water, such as in bird baths or fish ponds, in your yard. Check that your window screens are tightly fitted and repair any holes to keep bugs out of the house.
- Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
- Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET when needed to prevent insect-related diseases. Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, and other viruses. DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.
- When outside in the evenings or other times when there are a lot of mosquitoes present, cover up with long sleeved shirts, pants and socks to prevent bites.
Prevent Poolside Accidents
Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning.
- Always supervise children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
- Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
- Install a four-sided fence around home pools.
- At the pool, make sure an adult is within an arm’s length of any child younger than five.
To schedule an appointment, please call 443-777-2000.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
Family Health Center
9101 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
Family Medicine Residency
Hours of Operation
Monday - Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.