Happy Fourth of July Weekend! Don't forget to prioritize safety if you're going outdoors this weekend, even if it's just for a backyard barbecue. Safeguard against these dangers in advance so that you and your family can enjoy your Independence Day to the fullest!
We'll start with the obvious: it's the Fourth of July, and there's a good chance you'll be at a cookout where fireworks are available. Fireworks can be dangerous, and the National Safety Council recommends that only trained professionals should handle fireworks. But if you choose to handle legal fireworks, here are some safety tips:
- Use protective eyewear when using fireworks or standing near them.
- Never use them under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Adult supervision: Young children should never handle fireworks, and older children should have supervision at all times while handling them.
- Only use them in outdoor areas.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container.
- Never hold a lit firework.
- Never throw or aim fireworks at a person.
- Only light one device at a time, and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
- Never relight or handle a malfunctioning firework.
- Soak spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish fireworks or any fires.
- Never use illegal fireworks.
- Sparklers account for at least 25% of fireworks-related emergency room visits. Don't underestimate their danger.
Many of us are gathering with family and friends this weekend, and while we've been missing social interaction, remember your guidelines to preventing the spread of germs:
- Wear a mask.
- Keep six feet of distance between yourself and others.
- Wash your hands properly, and use hand sanitizer when soap and water isn't available.
- Disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
- Avoid gathering in large numbers.
- Don't go anywhere if you've tested positive for COVID-19, and avoid contact with anyone who has.
It seems obvious to say: summer's hot. But in the rush to make the most of your time off, people can easily miss the early signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. Make sure you know the signs, and that you pay attention to what your body's telling you. The heat can cause a number of problems, so be ready for all of them.
General Heat Tips:
- Avoid strenuous exercise on hot days.
- Work out during the early morning or late evening.
- Stay hydrated! Fill up on water regularly and before any exercise.
- Excessive sweating means you should take in more water.
- Stop for frequent water breaks during any physical activity or work.
- Drink the right liquids! Overly cold beverages can cramp your stomach, and sugary or caffeinated beverages can dehydrate you.
- Never leave anyone enclosed in a vehicle on a hot day, especially a child or pet.
- Copious sweating.
- Weakness or fatigue.
- Clammy, pale, or flushed skin.
- Elevated body temperature.
- Vomiting or fainting when severe.
What to Do: Rest in a cool, shaded area. Drink water or especially an electrolyte beverage (sports drinks). Call an ambulance if necessary.
- Confusion or deliriousness.
- Elevated body temperature.
- Dry, hot skin with red or blue tinge.
What to Do: Call an ambulance immediately. While waiting, rest in a cool, shaded
Signs: Muscle cramping or spasms that can occur both during physical activity or afterwards.
What to Do: Drink an electrolyte beverage. Receive medical attention if necessary.
Heat Syncope (Fainting)
- Sweaty skin without elevated body temperature.
- Temporary loss of consciousness.
- Does not have the symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
What to Do: Lie down in a cool place. Raise your legs or lower your head to help blood flow to your brain. Call for medical attention if necessary.
- Pink or reddish bumps along the skin.
- Prickly sensation, irritation, itchiness.
What to Do: Keep the skin as dry and clean as possible to avoid infection. Take cool baths and turn on air conditioning. Wear loose, cotton clothing.
You know where this is going: wear your sunscreen. Sun damage to your skin can increase your chances of skin cancers like melanoma. Some tips:
Limit sun exposure. Attempt to avoid the sun's intense rays between 10am and 4pm.
Apply sunscreen every day. Use a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, both before and every 60 to 80 minutes during outdoor exposure. Select "broad-spectrum" products that filter both UVA and UVB light.
If you are likely to sunburn, wear a long sleeved shirt, pants and a wide brimmed hat. Make use of shade as often as possible.
Conduct monthly self exams. The best time to do these is right after a shower or bath, using a full length mirror and a hand held mirror in a bright room.
Most summer fun takes place outdoors, but there are plenty of hazards beyond the heat and sun.
Kids love swimming, but it can be dangerous even in man-made environments. Teach your children firm safety rules for swimming, such as those suggested by the Red Cross:
Maintain supervision: always watch swimming children, and never leave them unattended. If a child goes missing, check the water first. Never leave a child's life in another child's hands.
Never swim alone: always go with at least one other person.
Follow regulations: listen to lifeguards and other supervisors. Swim within designated areas. Teach children to ask permission before going near water.
Use proper equipment: small children or inexperienced swimmers should use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Have reaching and throwing equipment on hand, as well as cell phones and a first aid kit.
Proper pool safety: make sure your pool is secured with appropriate barriers.
Take courses: organizations like the Red Cross offer swimming lessons, as well as courses in pool safety, water safety, and first aid and CPR.
Pesky insects are a routine summer annoyance, but don't take them for granted -- sometimes they can be a health hazard. Some tips on dealing with insects:
Use the right insect repellent: bug sprays are handy, but be careful of those containing DEET, which can be toxic in high quantities. Use repellents with 10 to 30 percent DEET concentrations at most, and never on children younger than 2 months. Do not apply these to faces or hands. Non-toxic repellents made with picaridin, citronella, or oil of lemon eucalyptus are great alternatives.
Remove stingers properly: don't pull or tweeze stingers. Instead, scrape gently with a thin, firm object like a credit card, pushing the stinger out in the direction it entered the skin. Relieve the pain of the sting with a paste of baking soda and water, or a hydrocortisone cream.
Prevent tick bites: Ticks can carry Lyme disease, so it's worth taking extra precautions. Stay out of tick-heavy areas, especially thick underbrush or forest. Use an insect repellent. Check your family and pets daily for ticks, and wear light-clothing for easy spotting. Wear long sleeves and pants when hiking or near woods. Remove ticks with a proper device, rather than pulling or squeezing.