by Greg Clifford, M.D. SageWest Emergency Services Medical Director
With summer officially here, chances are you’re hoping to take advantage of the season’s many opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature. And while it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is still here and we should be doing everything we can to stop the spread of this virus, taking a break to get outside, soak up some vitamin D and enjoy a little fun in the sun can do a world of good for your physical and mental health. Whether you’re taking the family to a mountain cabin, having a picnic in the park or prioritizing some pool time, remember to take the steps to help keep you, your family and your community healthy and safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Social distancing (staying six feet apart)
- Wearing a mask or cloth face-covering in public spaces to help protect others and yourself
- Frequently washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol) and
- Staying home if you’re feeling ill.
And keep in mind these handy tips and important precautions to help you beat the heat, savor the water, and have a safe and healthy summer.
Heat is the number one weather killer in the U.S., and overexposure to heat can be especially harmful to children and seniors. You can protect yourself and your family and be heat smart by:
- Being aware of temperature and humidity levels and modifying your activity accordingly
- Always use an SPF-15 or higher sunscreen that protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays
- Wearing sunglasses when outside to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays
- Limiting outdoor activities when temps are at their highest (typically mid-day)
- Staying hydrated and drinking lots of low or no-sugar beverages (water is always best!)
- Taking advantage of cooler areas outside
- Heading indoors when the temps soar above 90
- Avoiding enclosed places like cars or garages
- NEVER leave children or animals in a car unattended
- Dressing for comfort, with loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing
- Taking breaks when exercising
- Limiting or avoiding adult beverages (alcohol can impair your body’s ability to self-regulate its temperature)
What’s cooler than a dip in the water on a hot day? Make safe waves with these timely tips:
- Only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards
- Always swim with a buddy
- Never leave a child unattended near water or trust a child’s life to another child
- Make sure young children and inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water
- Don’t play around drains and suction fittings in the pool
- Always be cautious around natural bodies of water – currents and underwater hazards can make falling into the water dangerous
- Wear a life jacket when boating (most boating fatalities occur from drowning)
- Avoid alcohol use around pools and bodies of water
- If you have a pool or hot tub or live near a body of water, keep reach-and-throw equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit nearby.
Following these helpful tips, taking the proper precautions, and engaging in some thoughtful planning can go a long way towards helping you enjoy this season safely. Should you or anyone you’re with succumb to illness or injury, it’s important to seek proper medical attention immediately and – in cases of emergency – call 911.
For more information on heat safety, visit www.weather.gov/safety/heat.
For more information on water safety, visit www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety.html.