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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:
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.
What to Do: Rest in a cool, shaded area. Drink water or especially an electrolyte beverage (sports drinks). Call an ambulance if necessary.
What to Do: Call an ambulance immediately. While waiting, rest in a cool, shaded area.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.