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Take Proper Precautions

Wherever your summer adventures take you, take precautions to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Pave the way for safe travels.

Headed out on a road trip? Get your road map for health on the road. Pack healthy snacks to fuel your adventures. For trips lasting five to six hours, you’ll want more than snacks on hand. No matter where your travels take you, near or far, purchase a car safety kit for emergencies. It should include jumper cables, a flashlight, hammer and basic first aid materials. Also make sure you have a solid spare tire on board.

Safety first by the water.

Nothing says summer like sitting poolside, but water safety is extremely important. Every day in the U.S., an estimated 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. To prevent accidents from occurring, only swim in designated areas with lifeguards. Inexperienced or young swimmers should wear a protective life jacket near the water. If you’re using a private pool, make sure there is adult supervision at all times and lock the gate when it is not in use. Pay attention for signs of dry drowning or secondary drowning, which occurs when water enters the mouth or nose or gets trapped in the lungs.

Water sitting in a garden hose can rise to scorching temperatures. If your backyard fun includes using a garden hose, run the water for a minute before testing the temperature.

Protect yourself from the sun.

While soaking in those summer rays, protect the skin you’re in. Sunscreen can protect against UVB rays, and sometimes UVA rays, but must be applied regularly. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and at least every two hours afterwards. If you’ve overdone it, find out if it’s time to see a physician about your sunburn.

Stay hydrated.

Every part of your body needs water to function properly. When your temperature rises, your body sweats to keep cool and drive heat away from internal organs. So whether you’re sitting in the sun or playing all day, make sure to stay hydrated. Mix it up by adding fruits or vegetables to your water. You can also snack on high water content foods, such as watermelon or pineapple slices. Know the signs of dehydration and when to increase your intake.

Don’t invite unwanted guests.

From flip-flops to beach towels, prevent germs from tracking into your house after a day at the beach. Remove shoes before entering your house. Immediately place all moist towels into the washing machine to avoid spreading sand. If you’ve used goggles or other items, wash them with soap before storing them for the next round of fun.

Protect against pests.

Protect yourself from bugs by selecting an insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET. Although this is safe for children, do not use DEET on children under 2 months of age. Instead, place a mosquito netting over the stroller for an extra barrier from bugs. If you notice you’ve gotten a bug bite, pay attention to any adverse reactions, such as headache, fever or tightness in your chest.

Prevent burns.

Between barbecues and bonfires, there are plenty of ways to unwind after a long summer day. Exercise extreme caution when it comes to open flames. Don’t allow children or pets near charcoal grills or bonfires. After you’re done, allow coals to cool before extinguishing with water.

- Ashley Muhr, DO, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, Family Medicine

Ashley Muhr, DO
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