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Outdoor Summer Safety Tips


By: Temitope Olarewaju, MD, Phoebe Primary Care Physician

 

Summertime is officially here!  Whether you’re heading out for a hike, camping, fishing or lounging around the pool, there are so many great ways to enjoy the great outdoors and warm weather.  But, as with any activity there are precautions we can take to avoid accidents, and stay safe and healthy.

Here are some tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable summer!

1. Avoid Bug Bites - Be invisible to insects. Scented soaps, perfumes and hairsprays can attract mosquitoes and  other biting bugs. Also, avoid places where insects nest or gather, such as standing water, uncovered foods and heavily-wooded areas.  It is important to use bug spray with DEET. The chemical wards off ticks, which can carry Lyme disease, and mosquitoes which can spread West Nile virus. Lastly, be sure to check yourself and your children for ticks.

2. Follow the 20-Minute Rule – Drink water at least every 20 minutes to prevent heat stress and heat stroke.  Older adults and children especially should stay hydrated when outside on hot and humid days.

3. Play it Safe – The playground is great place to take children to play but it can also be dangerous. Take a good look at the equipment to ensure it is in good shape. Rotted or worn out woods and plastics can have sharp edges and points that could scrape or cause eye injuries.  Make sure slides and other surfaces are cool and not too hot. Those surfaces can cause burns when they’ve been sitting in sun for long periods of time.

4. Be Street Smart - Before heading out on a family bike ride, don’t forget to strap on a helmet. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury if you do have an accident.

5. Keep an Eye out for Bad Plants – Learn to recognize poison ivy and poison oak, and steer clear! If you are unclear on identifying poisonous plants, then be sure to carry a book with photos of these plants to refer to when hiking. (Don’t rely on your phone as you might be in a no service area!)

6. Share Your Adventure – Planning a hiking or camping trip? Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. It is important that someone knows where you will be in case of an emergency. Also, don’t forget to pack a first aid kit. Essential items for a first aid kit include: antibiotic ointment, band aids, anti-itch cream and an ace bandage.

7. Swim Safety – Never swim alone, and it’s always better to swim where there are lifeguards. Young children and inexperienced swimmers should always wear a life jacket. And, most importantly, don’t jump in the water to save a friend.  If a child sees their friend struggling to keep their head above water, their first instinct may be to jump in to help.  However, doing so could lead to both people drowning. Instead, throw a Coast Guard approved flotation device to the person in the water or use a pole to reach them.

8. Lather up – Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen! That means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays. Even if it is a little cloudy outside and doesn’t seem too hot, still apply sunscreen before heading outside, and don’t forget to reapply.

 

Dr. Temitope Olarewaju is a board-certified physician in family medicine. She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from St. Georges University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. She interned in family medicine at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida before completing her residency at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, New Jersey.