Medical Update – Summer Safety Tips

6-18-2015 4-42-06 PMAfter a long, cold winter and a humid, rainy spring, summer has finally arrived in full force. The days are longer, with the sun being up well before 6AM and not going down until past 8PM in the evenings. When I was a kid, I loved this time of year. It meant no school and playing outside all day.

June is National Safety Month, and below you’ll find some tips to keep you and your kids safe this summer as you enjoy the break from school or work.

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Tick Bites:
One of the major things to be on the lookout for this summer is ticks. They are everywhere, especially if you live in rural areas like Limestone County where fields and forests abound. Ticks carry a variety of illnesses such as Lyme’s Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both of which can have serious lasting effects if not recognized and treated early on.

To keep the ticks away:
• Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeves, tucking pants into socks if you are going to be doing any hiking or playing in wooded areas where ticks are common.
• Use tick or bug repellent. There are many different brands available, and it is important to find the best fit for you and your family. Any repellent containing DEET can be extremely hazardous to your health. Some families choose to make their own insect repellents using essential oils like peppermint, lavender, pennyroyal, geranium, lemongrass, eucalyptus, or lemon oil in a witch hazel base. My personal favorite recipe uses Young Living Essential Oils, though any therapeutic grade oil will work. It calls for 14oz of Witch Hazel, 12 drops of lavender, 15 drops of citronella, and 15 drops of lemongrass.
• Perform tick checks on a daily basis, especially if you have been in wooded or rural areas. Check heads, armpits, and any fold/creases, as these are prime areas for ticks to hide.
• Be aware of signs and symptoms with tick-born illness, and call your healthcare practitioner for any questions or concerns. Some signs and symptoms are so subtle that they can be missed or may mimic other conditions. For more information, check out the Centers for Disease Control website.
• If you get bitten by a tick, use fine tipped tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, gentle pressure and DO NOT twist or jerk as you can leave pieces of the insect behind. After removing the tick, clean the area well with rubbing alcohol, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, or chlorhexidine. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching any other part of the body, especially mucus membranes. Dispose of the tick by either flushing it down the toilet or drowning it in alcohol; NEVER crush a tick with your fingers.

Beat the Heat:
In states like Alabama where the heat index is high, it is extremely important to be aware of how heat can wreak havoc in your body if it isn’t accustomed to high temperatures.

Remember to:
• Keep yourself hydrated. Drink more water in the summer months. Stay away from sodas, caffeine, and sugary drinks as these increase the risk of dehydration. Offer fluids BEFORE someone complains of thirst because they are already dehydrated at that point.
• NEVER leave anyone unattended in a vehicle during the summer. The heat inside a vehicle is much greater than outside and can cause severe or fatal consequences. Children, animals, and the elderly are at the highest risk for negative outcomes associated with heat.
• Cover skin and/or use sunscreen to prevent sun damage that can lead to skin cancer. Some sun is necessary for the body to be able to absorb Vitamin D and can help fight off symptoms of mild depression. Make sure to get sun on bare skin in the early morning or late evening when the suns rays aren’t at their peak. If you choose to use sunscreen, there are options for making your own that is a safer alternative to commercial ones that can be harmful.

Water Safety:
Water sports are a big hit, especially in this area where pools, rivers, and streams abound. Adult supervision is mandatory for your enjoyment of water activities.

Keep in mind:
• No one, including adults, is drown proof.
• Always wear life jackets when on a boat, jet ski, or any other watercraft.
• NO DISTRACTIONS! Looking away for even a moment can have disastrous effects.
• Practice touch supervision, meaning that a supervising adult who can swim is within arms reach at all times when children are in or near water.
• Children can drown in many different places including bathtubs, buckets, swimming pools, baby pools, streams, creeks, lakes, and rivers. It doesn’t take much water.

Fireworks Safety:
The 4th of July is right around the corner. Many children enjoy fireworks displays and want to play with sparklers, firecrackers, and other fireworks.

Make sure you:
• Supervise children with any fireworks at all times. Even sparklers can reach temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees.
• Attend displays put on by professionals who are experienced and have access to emergency medical equipment and personnel.
• If you or a child experiences burns, seek immediate emergency medical treatment. The chemicals in fireworks can linger and burn longer and hotter than a normal burn.

Enjoy a safe, fun summer.
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN