Summer is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy the beauty in Pennsylvania. However, with all that beauty also comes some risks that we need to be aware of and protect ourselves from. These include sun safety, heat safety, bug safety, and water safety.
The first of these is the basic safety that all of us are aware of and sometimes do not follow….Sun Safety. According to the CDC, the sun can do damage to the skin in as little as 15 minutes. Meaning that little walk out to the mailbox and stopping to talk to your neighbor can actually pose a threat to your health. Approximately 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer is associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Stay safe by seeking shade, wearing long sleeves if possible, wearing a hat and sunglasses, and of course; the number one; sunscreen! You want to wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 in it before going outside, even on cloudy days.
In Pennsylvania we typically do not experience the extremely high heat that they experience in the southern part of the country but it does not matter how warm it is, people can still suffer from heat related illnesses. According to the National Safety council, 244 people died in 2014 from exposure to excessive heat. The three stages of heat related illnesses are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The people most at risk for these are infants and young children; elderly people; people with heart-related illnesses, circulatory issues or other long-term illnesses; people who are working outside; and people who exercise outside.
Heat cramps are muscle spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdominal muscles.3 These are usually not as severe and can be cured by sitting in the shade, drinking cool water or a sports drink and stretching.3 Heat exhaustion is the next severe. At this point the body has lost a lot of water and salt and usually manifest in flu like symptoms.3 You want to move yourself or another person to a shaded/air-conditioned area, have a cool beverage such as water, and apply wet towels to help cool down.3 If not taken care of, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. When someone reaches heat stroke they have lost the ability to sweat and organs start to be affected.3 Heat stroke is often times fatal and survivors can experience organ damage.3 You want to call 911 immediately and the move the person to the shade and rapidly cool them with water.3 You do not want to get to the point where you or someone else has reached heat stroke. That is why it is important to stay hydrated and when the first signs of heat cramps occur, to take care of them immediately.
“Bug” Safety is also big this time of year. Not only because of mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus or, more recently, the Zika Virus outbreak that was occurring, but also because of Lyme Disease. Summer is often known as “tick season” and we need to be increasingly aware of them as the rate of Lyme disease increases across the country. There are a variety of insect repellents out there that not only protect you from mosquitos but also protect you from ticks. If you do find a tick on you, remove it as soon as possible using fine tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the surface of the skin as possible. Pull upward and steady to remove the tick and clean the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.4 You can dispose of a live tick, by putting it in alcohol, placing in a sealed container, and wrapping it with tape or flushing it down the toilet.4 According to the CDC you want to make sure you keep an eye out for a rash or a fever and if you develop one to see your doctor with all the information regarding your tick bite.
Finally one of the last big safety hazards that occur a lot in the summer are water hazards. This not only includes boating accidents but also drowning accidents. Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children and young adults ages 5-24 and in 2014, 737 people in that age group died. According to the National Safety Council the best way to prevent these accidents from happening is to do the following things:
- 1. Don’t go in the water unless you know how to swim5
- 2. Never swim alone5
- 3. Learn CPR and First Aid techniques5
- 4. Make sure the body of water you are swimming in matches with your skill level
- 5. If you are caught in a current in a river, ocean, or a lake you don’t want to fight it. You want to stay calm and float with it or swim parallel to the shore line until you can swim free of it. 5
- 6. Swim in areas that are supervised by a life guard5
- 7. You don’t want to push or jump on other swimmers5
- 8. If diving, don’t do it in unfamiliar areas5
- 9. Never drink alcohol while swimming5
Following these items will help protect yourself and others while swimming this summer.
It is important to be aware of all the hazards that face us this summer. The National Safety Council has great information to stay safe and informed. You can visit this website, www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer, to read further information. We, at CareGivers America, want you all to have fun and stay safe this summer!
 “Skin Cancer Foundation.” Treatments for Stage III and Stage IV Melanoma – SkinCancer.org, www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts.
 “Skin Cancer.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 June 2017, www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm.
 “Safety at Home.” Distracted Driving Research, www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer/heat.
 “Ticks.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 June 2015, www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html.
 “Safety at Home.” Distracted Driving Research, www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/drowning.