Hot Temps – Cool Tips: Summer Safety Advice from Memorial Physicians
We’re constantly told to get outside and enjoy the summer weather, but once we try to do it we’re faced with intense sunlight, annoying bugs, and energized kids who have a tendency to substitute fun for safety. The good news: taking the proper precautions can ensure a fun, memorable day in the sun for both you and your family.
To ensure your family gets the most out of summer fun, here are some warm weather safety tips from two of our physicians with Memorial Physician Services, Joshua Ellison, MD, and Gustavo Mosquera, MD.
Win the Bug Battle
As temperatures rise, bugs come out. Whether dealing with mosquitoes, ticks, or chiggers, your best protection is bug spray that’s at least 10 to 30 percent DEET. The higher the percentage, the longer the repellent lasts. This can be mixed with sunscreen and is safe on children as young as 2 months old.
Beat the Heat
The risk of heat illness goes up during exertion and with certain health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Heat exhaustion symptoms include thirst, fatigue, and cramps in the legs or abdomen. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a medical emergency. Your best protection is to carry a water bottle, drink fluids regularly, and wear loose-fitting clothes.
Overly active children aren’t the only things to watch out for on the playground. Faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior can also pose risks. The playground surface should be soft enough to cushion a fall (wood chips, sand, pea gravel, and rubber – either in shredded tire or rubber mat form – are acceptable), and the equipment needs to be a good distance away from fences. Check metal surfaces to make sure they are not too hot, look for sharp objects and stay away from ropes that could get wrapped around your child. Leave the cell phone or iPad at home to ensure there are no distractions.
Utilize the buddy system when swimming, and be sure small children wear life jackets at all times. Water sports and alcohol are never a safe combination. “It’s also easy to get dehydrated because you’re losing water when you’re in the sun and replacing it with alcohol,” says Dr. Mosquera. “It quickly slows your reflexes, creating a dangerous situation on the water.”
Prevent a Cookout Catastrophe
Warmer months mean more family cookouts and picnics but also an increase in foodborne illness due to improper handling techniques. Make sure your food is safe by keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Wash all fruits and vegetables. Keep cooked food separate from raw food, cook food thoroughly and refrigerate food promptly, and be sure your hands are always clean.