Summer is a great time for Central New Yorkers to get outside and have fun with family and friends. You can take evening walks around the neighborhood. Get the kids involved in sports programs. Go swimming or boating, ride a bike, take a hike, hit the playground or plan a family softball or soccer game.
But when you are on the move, make sure to exercise caution and follow some simple summer safety tips. Remember that most summer injuries are preventable. According to the Mayo Clinic, incorporating these precautions into your routine will help you and your family develop safety awareness.
Bicycle safety. Going for a bike ride around the neighborhood or a road trip? Both children and adults should wear a helmet that has a durable outer shell and a polystyrene liner. More than 95 percent of individuals killed in bicycle accidents were not wearing a helmet, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Check for oncoming traffic before turning, and avoid water patches, debris and potholes. Riding with the flow of traffic is not only recommended, it’s the law. Do not travel faster than your ability allows. And put on the brakes at stop signs: They are meant for bicycles as well as cars.
Swimming safety. Going to a pool or lake for a dip? Do not go swimming, or supervise children who are swimming, when you have consumed alcohol, a storm threatens, or boats or fishermen are operating in the immediate vicinity. Remember that outdoor pools must have a childproof fence around them, even in your own back yard. Never swim alone and teach children never to swim without adult supervision. Do not dive into water without first knowing its depth and check beneath the water surface for obstructions.
Know your limits. Do not try to swim too far or in hazardous conditions, such as a strong undertow. And if possible, know the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Boating safety. Casting off for fun on the water? Know and obey the rules when using any type of boat. Keep your boat properly equipped and maintained. Never consume alcohol while boating. Have as many personal floatation devices on hand as there are passengers in the boat. Adult non-swimmers and all children should wear them at all times. Adult swimmers should have them immediately accessible if they are not wearing them.
Do not overload the boat and do not go boating in dangerous weather conditions. If a boat capsizes, stay with it until help arrives. Do not try to swim to shore.
Vehicle safety. Out for a summer drive? Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death in people ages 1 to 34, according to the CDC. When you are out for a ride, seatbelts should be worn by drivers and passengers at all times, even when traveling a short distance. Children weighing less than 40 pounds must ride in specially designed car seats. Do not use the car’s shoulder harness for children weighing less than 40 pounds.
Be aware of other cars at all times and be prepared to take evasive action. Do not allow toys or other objects to accumulate and block your rear view. Do not drive after consuming alcohol or taking medications that may cause drowsiness or impair reaction time. Also, do not drive if you feel especially tired or ill. Avoid distractions. Make sure your lights, brakes, windshield wipers and steering work properly. Keep a first-aid kit, flashlight and emergency flares in your car.
Playground safety. Do your kids like to go the playground or have one in their back yard? If you are designing an outdoor play area at your home, locate it so you can monitor activity from inside the house. Position the equipment on grass, sand or other soft surfaces. Anchor equipment below the ground to prevent it from tipping. Discard equipment that is fragile or worn out. Supervise young children at all times. Establish playground rules, such as permitting only one person on the swing at a time, hold on with both hands, and no standing or kneeling allowed.
Avoid overheating and sun exposure. Preventing heat exhaustion requires acute awareness of yourself and those around you. Be on the lookout for symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can include rising body temperature, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, headaches and increased sweating. Heat illness can be prevented by gradually acclimating yourself to exercise; in hot or humid weather, exercise early in the morning or later in the day.
Thirst, or lack of it, are not accurate indications of dehydration. Drink two cups of water about 30 minutes before exercising and stop every 20 minutes while exercising to drink a cup of water. Avoid caffeine or alcohol, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes, and consume a sports drink that contains salt and potassium if you are exercising for more than an hour.
Sun exposure can cause wrinkles, skin problems and increase your risk of skin cancer. Here are three simple ways to maintain healthy skin:
Use sunscreen. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is recommended. Reapply every two hours, or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.
Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Wear protective clothing. Tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats help avoid the sun’s rays. Summertime is fun time and getting outside with family and friends can be great for your health. But remember to play it safe.t
Marnie Blount-Gowan is a member of the Crouse Hospital Integrative Health Alliance, Mind Body Health instructor and editor of Realewell.com.