Be Prepared

Finding joy in life and its activities is one of the best ways to keep yourself mentally and physically young. Whether that’s going out golfing with friends, playing with your grandkids, visiting a local winery, painting, wakeboarding, camping, etc., it’s important to make time to rest and relax this summer season.

Summer is known for its long days, but it’s also a prime time for severe weather like thunderstorms or hurricanes. Heavy area storms can easily knock out power and scatter debris, making it difficult to travel outside the home for necessities. Ensure you have a full emergency kit ready to go with non-perishable food, flashlights, water, a first aid kit, extra medications, etc. to see you through an emergency.

Be prepared for scrapes, scratches, bites, and more by having a first aid kit on hand. You’ll want to keep it stocked and ensure the ointments aren’t expired. Keep one at home and in your car for unexpected mini-medical issues. Items like gauze pads, medical tape, bandages, eye protection, alcohol wipes, and the like are useful to have in your kit.  In case of an emergency, first aid supplies can make a gigantic difference. Some of the recommended supplies include personal medications, gauze, latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, cotton swabs, tweezers, tissues, sterile compresses, etc. There are many more options than this, however.

Learn basic first aid as well.

Know how to identify and treat injuries and illnesses. Learn how to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, dehydration, and other illnesses, and know how to treat them. If necessary, take first aid or CPR class. Keep your materials in a well-marked, durable, waterproof container. Make sure to keep the contents organized and know how to use everything in the kit.

Pack emergency supplies in case of emergency.

These include, but are not limited to a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, whistle, warm clothing, high-energy food, water, and insect protection.

When traveling or camping always be ready for the unexpected. Before you leave, check the weather forecast, learn about security at your camp location, and tell family and friends your plans, such as where you intend to go, and when you plan on coming back.    When you return home, check for ticks, skin rashes or sunburn, dehydration, and other issues.

To keep your food and water safe:

Pack foods in tight, waterproof bags or containers. Keep them in an insulated cooler if needed.  Wash hands and surfaces often. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available.  Separate raw foods from cooked foods.  Cook foods to proper (correct) temperatures.  Chill foods when needed as to keep them from spoiling.

Stay away from wild animals.

Some wild animals carry diseases that are dangerous to people. Avoid touching, feeding, and getting near wild animals. Watch from a distance. Keep foods stored in sealed containers and out of the reach of animals.  Wild animals may look cute and harmless, but they are very unpredictable and can be very territorial and protective. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. In most cases, animals are more afraid of you than you are of them and will run away.  Do not attempt to feed wild animals. Most injuries occur when people try to feed them. Keep your food safely stored away, out of the reach of animals. Do not keep food in your tent as this may attract wild animals.  Keep your campsite clean, and do not leave food, garbage, coolers, cooking equipment or utensils out in the open.  Use a flashlight a night. Many animals feed at night, and the light from the flashlight may ward them away and scare them off.

Be wary of poisonous plants.

Familiarize yourself with any dangerous plants that are common to your camping area. If you come into contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse the affected area with water and apply a soothing lotion to the affected area. Some plants to look out for are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. The old saying “Leaves of three, let it be!” is a simple and quick reminder for identifying poison ivy and oak, but not poison sumac. Poison sumac usually has clusters of 7-13 leaves. Even poison ivy and poison oak may have more than three leaves, and their look may vary depending on the environment or exact species encountered.

Be careful with fire.

Build them in a safe area. Open fires should be far enough away from the tent to prevent the ignition of sparks, flames, and heat. Never use flame or any other heating device inside a tent. Use a flashlight or any other battery-powered light device instead.

Always attend your fires. Be sure you have an area for a fire that cannot spread horizontally or vertically- a grill or stone surface is ideal for this. When putting the fire out, drown it with water, making sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Embers buried deep within the pile of kindling have a tendency to reignite later, so be sure to check that all embers are extinguished.

Practice good fire safety. Clear the fire area of all debris and avoid areas with overhanging branches that could possibly ignite. When constructing a fire ring, surround it with rocks to avoid the flames spreading.

Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause illness or death in people and pets. Never use fuel-burning equipment such as gas stoves, heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills inside a tent or other enclosed shelter. It can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up because the space is so small and does not let the gas escape.

As an alternative to using fuel-burning appliances inside an enclosed shelter, bring adequate bedding and clothing. Consume extra calories and fluids to prevent hypothermia.

Carbon monoxide poisoning produces flu-like symptoms, watery eyes, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and possibly death. If someone you know has contracted carbon monoxide poisoning: 1) Get the victim to fresh air. 2) If the victim isn’t breathing, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 3) Get medical help. Call the nearest emergency medical service, law enforcement official, or ranger. 4) Transport the victim to a medical facility with a hyperbaric chamber.

As the saying goes, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

While the odds of being hit by lightning are one in a million annually, it’s still not a good idea to hang outdoors during a thunderstorm. Remember the 30-30 rule. Once you see lightning, count to 30. If thunderclaps happen before you hit 30, go inside. Additionally, avoid bathing in the shower or bathtub during thunderstorms as lightning can travel through plumbing.

Practice lightning safety when camping too. If you hear thunder, it means you are within ten miles of a thunderstorm, and as such should immediately seek shelter. Though a tent may seem like a suiting shelter, avoid it at all costs. The aluminum poles that hold up the tent can be very dangerous as they are good conductors of electricity. Get into a vehicle if possible. The rubber in the tires act as insulators, meaning they block the flow of electricity and absorb it, deadening the contact if your vehicle were to be struck by lightning. If you’re swimming and hear thunder, get out of the water immediately. Water is an extremely good conductor of electricity.

If you are going hiking, avoid the summits of mountains, crests of ridges, slopes above timberline, and large meadows as they are hazards during thunderstorms. If you happen to be in an exposed area when a storm is approaching, quickly descend to a lower elevation, away from the direction of the storm. Squat or kneel on a pad while keeping your head low. An exceptional area for protection is a dense forest located in a depression. Trees can be dangerous in such a situation, however; so, avoid taking shelter under isolated trees or trees much taller than neighboring ones. By doing this, you have minimal contact with the ground, which in turn reduces any danger from ground currents

Water Safety

Now that pools are reopening and summer beckons swimmers, it’s important to remember that public swimming areas can carry a variety of bacteria and viruses — even if it isn’t COVID. Be mindful of swimming only in clean public pools, otherwise, you can expose yourself to bacteria that can cause respiratory, eye, neurologic, gastrointestinal, skin, and wound infections. The most common health concern is swallowing pool water that’s been contaminated by human feces. Bacteria can live in improperly balanced pools for days, so if you accidentally swallow water and feel unwell, visit your doc.

Pool Safety Tips

Taking a dip in a pool on a hot day may be one of the greatest pleasures of summer, but pools can also be extremely dangerous, especially for children.  Besides birth defects, drowning is the top cause of death for children between the ages of one and four. Per the CDC kids 14 and younger, drowning is the number two cause of death behind car crashes. Even nonfatal pool incidents can cause long-term damage. The CDC also found that about 40 percent of people treated for drowning in emergency departments need to be hospitalized or require further care compared to just eight percent for all accidental injuries.

Of course, drowning is only one of the ways people can be injured by pools, and many types of pools and pool products can cause injuries to children and adults.  In-ground pools are frequently bordered with potentially slippery cement. When children or adults run on this cement, especially if it is wet, they can easily slip and hurt themselves. So, if you attend any summer parties this year, follow all poolside rules, and be sure to walk in all the pool areas.

Some swimming pool equipment can be dangerous, such as electric cleaning mechanisms and drains. Make sure cleaning equipment and filters have covers and instruct children not to put their hands inside or near the equipment. Pool ladders should be securely installed, and everyone should use caution when entering or exiting on ladders.  Jumping off of diving boards the wrong way can result in significant injury. Before diving off any diving boards, practice jumping off feet-first and make sure only one person jumps at a time. Make sure the water is at least nine feet deep before diving headfirst. Make sure that you and your children follow all posted rules for using pool slides as well and use them one person at a time. Sliders should go down feet first while seated and should exercise care when climbing the ladder.

If you have children, enrolling them in swimming lessons at a young age is one of the best ways to help prevent pool injuries and drowning. Until they are confident swimmers, they should use flotation devices like lifejackets or arm floats in the pool or remain in shallow waters.

Brain-eating amoeba prevention

You may be exposed to infection while swimming or partaking in watersports.

Avoid swimming in still, warm, brackish water that has loose bottom sediment. Avoid jumping or diving into the same type of water. Wear a nose clip if you jump or dive into relatively warm water lakes, rivers, pools, or other similar bodies of water.  The amoebae travel up the nose to the brain where they infect and destroy brain tissue.

Symptoms of a Naegleria infection can appear anywhere from 24 hours to 14 days after initial exposure to the amoeba. The early symptoms are similar to those of meningitis and can include fever and/or a severe headache.

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