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Summer: Safety first


            School is out for the summer. Graduation parties are in full swing. There are plans for amusement parks, camping trips, and days boating, fishing and a myriad of other activities that will create memories that will last a lifetime. The National Safety Council urges everyone to think safety. It takes only one careless moment to turn fun into tragedy.

            Every year about this time we talk about extreme heat that brings on heat-related illness, but there some additional things you may not have considered that are well worth your time.

            First, let’s look at heat-related illness. When the body works properly, sweating and blood flow help to cool the body down by transferring heat. But when the body cannot control its temperature, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can happen. It’s important to drink enough liquids to keep the body hydrated, about eight ounces of liquids per half hour, avoiding those beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine, or large amounts of sugar.

            What you wear has an impact on how your body manages the higher temperatures. Cotton clothing lets the skin breathe and absorbs sweat. A wide-brimmed hat is a good choice, too. When the summer temperatures are extreme, avoid working outdoors during the hottest hours of the day, about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you will be working outside, rest in the shade often. If you are on medication, ask your health care provider if there are any special instructions for you during hot weather.

            The National Safety Council recommends taking a training class in first aid so you will know what to do during heat-related and other emergencies. Heat exhaustion symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, light-headedness, heavy sweating, confusion and clammy skin. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. It is recommended that the individual lay in a cool area with their legs raised. Remove excessive layers of clothing. Do not offer anything to drink if there is vomiting. The objective is to get the body temperature down. Use cold, wet cloths and a fan to do this.

            Use sunscreen, drink water every 15 minutes when working or playing outside, and listen to your body. The Safety Council advises that “over-exertion accounts for 3.3 million emergency room visits annually in the U.S.” Extreme heat can worsen the effects of over-exertion.

            Related to working outside is knowing how to safely operate the equipment you use to maintain your yard. Wear sturdy shoes, clothing that protects you from objects the mower may throw. Before mowing remove debris like rocks and sticks and other objects like dog chains that can be thrown by the mower. To protect them from injury, don’t allow children or pets to be in the area where the power equipment is being used.

            “Hundreds of children between ages 1 and 14 drown each year. Nearly 30 percent of home drowning incidents occur when a child falls into a pool or is left alone in the bathtub. The younger the child, the greater the risk,” the Safety Council advises.

            Older children may be focused on having a good time, but not really thinking about safety. But if they can’t swim, they shouldn’t go into the water. And nobody should swim alone. Swim in areas where there is a lifeguard. At the ocean be aware of the currents. Don’t fight rip currents. Stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until you get to a safe place. Alcohol is involved in about half of all male drownings. Don’t drink alcohol when you are swimming.

            In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,158 boating accidents resulting in 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries, and $42 million in damages to property, says the National Safety Council. Wear a life jacket, even if you are a good swimmer. In 2014, 78 percent of boating deaths were drownings and 84 percent of those victims were not wearing life jackets. Use common sense in water activities. Make sure to have a tool box and first aid kit on board your boat. The National Safety Council urges that you take a water safety course because seven out of 10 boating accidents are caused by operator error.

            Take safety seriously and make memorable moments that you want to treasure forever. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Have a safe summer!

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