Top 5 Summer Safety Tips for Outdoor Fun | MedStar Health
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A family has fun kayaking together on a lake outdoors.

Whether you’re heading off to vacation or enjoying the long days of summer at home, the warm months are a great opportunity to get outside for some fun. The following summer safety tips can help ensure you spend most of your time outside rather than inside a hospital getting treated for an accidental summer injury.

Headed for an adventure or enjoying the warm months at home? On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, read Dr. Bhogal’s summer safety tips to ensure you spend your time outside rather than bedside in a hospital:

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Summer safety tips.

1. Cover your skin in sunscreen and bug spray.

Whether you’re swimming at the beach or hiking in the mountains, it’s important to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and bug bites. Too much sun exposure can lead to sunburn—or even skin cancer. Likewise, ticks can carry infection-causing bacteria, such as Lyme disease.

To protect your skin in the sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher. Be sure to reapply frequently, especially if you’re sweating or in the water. Other sun precautions include wearing protective clothing, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat—all of which can minimize your skin’s exposure to the sun.

Before choosing a location for hiking or camping, do your research to make sure you’re avoiding tick-infected areas. While there, consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and using an insect repellent containing DEET to minimize the likelihood of getting bitten. After your hike, a thorough bath is a great way to get rid of any ticks that may be lingering on your skin but haven’t latched on. You should also carefully check for ticks on your body and remove them promptly.

2. Drink water…and then drink some more.

Drinking lots of water is the best way to prevent heat-related illnesses because it helps your body stay hydrated and regulate its temperature. Heat-related illnesses can range from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion and stroke, all of which can come on quickly after too much time in the sun.

To avoid dehydration, take breaks when outside and carry water with you wherever you go. Minimize your sun exposure by seeking shade, when possible, and wearing appropriate clothing. If your clothes become soaked in sweat, be sure to change clothing because wet clothes will make it harder for your body to cool down. When hiking or participating in another outdoor activity with a group of people, make sure you know the signs of heat-related illnesses. If someone shows symptoms, everyone should stop the activity because chances are high that others have it, too.

3. Keep a first aid kit nearby.

On top of heat exhaustion, summer recreation can bring on unexpected injuries that range from cuts and scrapes on the skin to muscle-related accidents, like sprains and fractures. As an urgent care physician, I’ve seen my fair share of bike accident injuries and fishhooks lodged in fingers from boating trips.

There are safety precautions you can take to minimize your risk of both of those things from happening. But if an accident occurs, it’s good to be prepared with a stocked first aid kit. A simple first aid kit should include:

  • 1 bottle of saline solution
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets
  • 5 sterile gauze pads
  • 25 adhesive bandages, 1 roller bandage, 1 adhesive cloth tape
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 adhesive compress dressings
  • Tweezers
  • 1 oral thermometer
  • 1 instant cold compress

Learn more about common summer injuries and how to avoid them.

4. Be proactive about water safety.

Did you know drowning is one of the top causes of accidental deaths in the country? The good news is that drowning is almost always preventable with the proper precautions.

Adults should practice water safety for themselves, and kids will follow their lead. If you’re in or around water, avoid using alcohol or illicit drugs, which can impair your judgment. If you’re on a boat, wear a lifejacket.

Pools, lakes, and other large bodies of water aren’t the only places where kids can drown. Toilets and buckets with even just a few inches of water pose risks to babies and toddlers. That’s why children should always be actively monitored by an adult who is within an arm’s reach anytime they’re near water.

The best way to minimize drowning accidents is to ensure that kids can’t access water without help. Pools should be protected with a proper fence on all four sides. Families with young children should make sure bathrooms are secured so little ones can’t accidentally access the tub or toilet.

Learn more about preventing water injuries and drowning.

5. Exercise caution around grills and campfires.

From s’mores to barbecue, some of the best summertime food is tastiest when cooked over a fire. But, the dangers associated with grills and campfires aren’t to be taken lightly.

Adults and children alike are at risk of severe burns caused by getting too close to a hot grill or fire. To minimize the risk of burns and other fire-related injuries, make sure kids are closely supervised at barbecues and around a campfire. And, never leave either unattended.

In addition, both campfires and grills should be placed in an open area away from anything that could be flammable. All grill equipment should be properly inspected and maintained to prevent any malfunction, including the gas tank. Consider using fireproof mitts and long-handled utensils when cooking food over a fire to avoid skin exposure to flames. Wearing form-fitting clothing with short sleeves can also ensure you don’t accidentally catch your clothes on fire.

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