We love summer in Southern Maryland. Who doesn’t? Maybe it’s because summer is the perfect chance for a getaway or because there is more sun on these long summer days. For many of us, summer is the season to be jolly, not winter.
But the National Safety Council (NSC) reminds us that July and August are the deadliest time of year. From heat-related illnesses to burns and drownings, summer events can present all kinds of safety hazards.
Practice water safety
The statistics are chilling: Between 2005 and 2014, there were about 10 drowning deaths every day in the United States. If you add in boating-related drownings, the number increases to about 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Local news stories invariably quote parents as saying they only looked away for a moment. But, in truth, that’s all it takes. The CDC cautions parents to remain vigilant when your child is in or near water. Don’t depend on a lifeguard or anyone else, and don’t become distracted.
Additional tips to avoid drowning incidents include:
- Never swim alone
- If you get caught in a current, remain calm and don’t fight against it. Float with it or swim parallel to the shore.
- Alcohol and swimming don’t mix. In fact, the CDC claims that alcohol was a contributing factor in half of male teen drownings.
Prevent heat stroke
When the mercury rises, so does the danger of heat-related illnesses. The National Safety Council identifies three such illnesses:
Heatstroke – The most serious of the three, heatstroke occurs when a person’s body temperature rises quicker than the body’s ability to sweat. According to the NSC, “[t]he brain and vital organs are effectively ‘cooked’ as body temperature rises to a dangerous level in a matter of minutes. Heatstroke is often fatal, and those who do survive may have permanent damage to their organs.”
Symptoms of heat stroke include skin that is overly hot to the touch, confusion, coma, and seizures. The NSC recommends that someone suffering from heat stroke be placed in a half-sitting position in a shady spot, sprayed with water and fanned vigorously and, if the humidity level is more than 75 percent, have ice applied to their armpits, neck, or groin.
Don’t give the victim anything to drink or any pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or aspirin. Call for medical help right away.
Heat exhaustion — The symptoms of heat exhaustion mimic those of the flu and include fatigue, thirst, nausea, headache, and vomiting. The person may sweat profusely, and the skin will appear pale and feel clammy.
“Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heatstroke, so make sure to treat the victim quickly,” cautions the NSC. Move the victim to an air-conditioned area if possible; otherwise, find a shady spot, give him or her water to drink, and apply wet towels to the body. A cool shower is also recommended.
Heat cramps – When you exercise in extreme heat you may suffer muscle spasms and cramps, typically in the abdominal muscles or legs. These cramps are the result of a lack of salt in the body due to excessive sweating. Relieve them by sitting in the shade, drinking sports drinks, stretching, and seeing a doctor if the symptoms aren’t relieved within one hour.
Keep your pet safe
Did you know: Dogs can get sunburns, too. If your dog is going to be spending time in the sun this summer, the ASPCA suggests slather Fido with sunscreen. Choose a brand that doesn’t contain fragrance and contains properties that block both UVA and UVB rays.
We all know not to leave kids and pets in cars on warm days – even for just a few minutes. Heat stroke can occur within moments. But, it can also happen outside the confines of a hot car, when a dog is overactive on a warm day.
It begins with dehydration, so if your pet is drooling excessively, its gums are dry, and it feels hot to the touch, get it into the shade or indoors quickly. Slowly cool it down with water (but don’t submerge it in an ice bath). Then, get your pet to a veterinarian quickly, even if it seems to be doing better.
Summer heat is tough on our cars, and puddles of antifreeze prove it. Pets, especially dogs, are attracted to antifreeze, and it’s deadly when ingested. Never allow your dog to lick anything off the ground.
If your keep your dog outdoors, make sure he or she has access to shade and clean, cool water.
Be BBQ safe
What’s the best way to cook in the summer? Outside on the barbecue! Despite the yummy smells and the tasty food they produce, barbecues cause nearly 9,000 home fires every year, and July and August are peak grilling months.
Follows these tips to keep your family and your home safe during the summer grilling season:
- Keep the grill clean. The National Fire Protection Association cautions that dirty grills are the leading cause of grill fires.
- Place the grill at least 10 feet away from the house, other structures, and landscape décor (such as hanging planters, pillows and patio umbrellas).
- Keep both a spray bottle of water and a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Never turn on the gas while the lid is closed.
- Never leave the grill unattended.
- Never use your grill indoors.
- Don’t allow children and pets to play near the grill.
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