David Holder, M.D., emergency medicine physician and medical director of the emergency department at Wake Forest Baptist Health Lexington Medical center, offers some basic advice that will help you and your family avoid illness and injury all summer long.
Practice Water Safety: Swimming and boating are popular pastimes during the summer, and both are linked to death and injuries each year. Never swim alone and make sure that children’s water play is supervised at all times. Always have a designated chaperone watching small children when in close proximity to water. Statistics show that most young children who drown in pools have been out of sight for less than five minutes. If boating, make sure to wear a life jacket and obey boating laws. Never mix boating and alcohol.
Keep Children Away from Grills: Always check your gas grill for leaks, blockages or an overfilled tank before lighting as any one of these things can cause an explosion. Grills get extremely hot, so make sure small children are at a safe distance, and never leave a grill unattended.
Avoid Bee Stings: For those who are allergic, a bee sting can be deadly. If anyone in your family is allergic to insect stings, make sure to have an emergency anaphylaxis kit on hand. To discourage bees and wasps, make sure to cover food and beverages outdoors. Additionally, avoid scented body products, colognes, bright colors and sugary drinks. If a deep woods adventure is more to your liking, dress accordingly in hiking shoes, long sleeves and long pants. This will decrease the likelihood of tick or mosquito bites.
Apply Sunscreen: Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause both premature aging and skin cancer in the long term, not to mention painful sunburn. That’s why it’s important to apply sunscreen before and during outdoor activity. Sunscreen should be reapplied often, especially after water sports. Don’t forget to check the side effects of your prescription medications as some increase sensitivity to the sun.
Keep Food Safe: Allowing food to sit out too long is an invitation for food borne illness. Never leave food out longer than one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees and no more than two hours at other times. Foods that need to be kept cold should be placed in a cooler with plenty of ice and kept at a temperature of 40 degrees. Mayonnaise and eggs are often cited as the cause of food borne illness, but any food can potentially become contaminated.
Fireworks: If fireworks are a part of your summer nights, make sure to use them safely. Only buy fireworks from a reputable source and store them in a cool, dry place. Never allow children to handle fireworks, even sparklers, and keep everyone at a safe distance. It’s a good idea to have a water source close by in case of an emergency. If possible, leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend one of the many professional fireworks displays in the area. That’s always safer than trying to put on your own show.