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Summer Safety

It’s that time of year again! The sun is out and it’s time to enjoy the delights of summertime. Whether playing in the sunshine or floating in the water, it’s especially important that you keep safety top of mind as you enjoy all of the benefits of our beautiful Michigan summers.

WATER SAFETY

One aspect of summer that Michiganders love the most is playing in the water. We do, afterall, have a plethora of it between the Great Lakes and smaller inland lakes. Whether enjoying our awesome natural resources or diving into a pool, water safety is critical. Some of our basic tips for water safety include:

  • Kids should never be left alone near water, regardless of whether it’s a pool, spa, lake (not to mention a bath tub). Close supervision is the best way to prevent drowning.
  • Kids who are inexperienced swimmers should have an adult within arms reach at all times.
  • Supervision should be done by an adult who knows how to swim, is not intoxicated, and is not distracted.
  • “Floaties” should never be a substitute for life jackets and can give a false sense of security.
  • Formal swim lessons can decrease the risk of drowning for kids older than one year by up to 88%!
  • There is no evidence that swim lessons prevent drowning in babies younger than one year of age.

If you own a pool:

  • A fence that is AT LEAST 4 feet tall should surround it on all sides.
  • Entrances to the pool area should be locked. If the entrance is a gate then it should self latch above the child’s reach height.
  • Gate alarms are another good way to prevent unknown entrance to the pool area.
  • Consider alarms on your home doors so you know if your child is going outside.

DID YOU KNOW…

Around 50% of kids who drown do so with a parent or other adults present. How does this happen? Drowning is silent. It is not loud like we see in the movies and there is no yelling or splashing.

Click here to learn more about what drowning looks like and what you can do if you see it happening. 

SUN SAFETY

We can’t talk about the sun and not talk about sunscreen. One of the most basic steps you can take to minimize sun damage is to take care of your skin! Basic steps you can take include:

  • Protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays by wearing sunscreen and sun protective clothing such as rash guards.
  • Choose a sunscreen that is 30 SPF and labeled as “broad spectrum”, meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sunscreen should be applied about 15-30 min before sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hrs, along with reapplying after swimming.
  • Sun protective clothing such as rash guards are very helpful, as all sunscreen will wear off eventually.
  • There is a misconception that the higher SPF the better. But in reality, when you go above 30 SPF there is very little added benefit.
  • Try to limit your sun exposure between 10am – 2pm as that is the timeframe when the sun is the most intense.

DID YOU KNOW…

You can actually get sun poisoning, a term used for a severe sun burn, from over-exposure to the sun?  Symptoms include:

  • Skin redness and blistering
  • Pain and tingling
  • Swelling
  • Headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration

As important as skin protection is when it comes to the sun, it’s also important to think about hydration. Over-exposure to the sun can result in heat exhaustion, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called a heat stroke if not addressed.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is basically when the body loses its ability to cool itself down. Your body cools itself by sweating, but in order to do so it has to be armed with enough fluid AND the humidity has to be low enough for the sweat to actually evaporate off of you. So, if you’re dehydrated to begin with or you become dehydrated, your body isn’t going to be able to sweat enough to cool down.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Light headedness
  • Muscle cramps

If you or someone you know starts experiencing these symptoms, you must immediately stop what you’re doing, get to a cooler place and hydrate. In fact, hydration is the cornerstone of not only preventing heat exhaustion, but reversing it. If you know you’re going to be in the sun on a hot day for a long period of time, you should be striving to drink 2-4 glasses of water (or cold fluids) every hour that you’re in the sun. Keep in mind that on a normal day you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, so you should be aiming for even more when you’re outside on a hot day.

In cases where heat exhaustion isn’t recognized and promptly addressed, it can turn into a life-threatening heat stroke. Symptoms of a heat stroke include:

  • Change in mental state
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Decreased sweating
  • Body temperature that can exceed 106 degrees

Immediate medical attention is needed if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heat stroke.

It’s important to note that infants, toddlers, children and the elderly are especially at risk of heat exhaustion. NEVER leave an infant, toddler, or child in a car on a hot day.

DID YOU KNOW…

It’s estimated that approximately 38 children die each year after being trapped inside a vehicle. Cars parked in direct sunlight on a hot day can exceed 170 degrees, and in a matter of 15 minutes a car can get up to 109 degrees (and that’s with the windows cracked)! It doesn’t matter if you’re just “running a quick errand”, don’t leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Period.

We hope that you find the above information helpful as you enjoy the benefits of a fun and safe summer!