Summer Safety Tips

Published in Wellness Author: Mary Felt,RN,CNP

Nearly all of us can agree, there's no better place to be than Minnesota in the summertime. Whether you're swimming, boating, fishing, camping, hiking, golfing or gardening, it's important to remember a few safety tips to help protect you and your family this summer.

  1. Apply sunscreen. In the summer, the sun's rays are strongest from 10 AM to 4 PM. If you or your child plan to be outside during this time, it's important to remember to apply sunscreen. Skin cancer develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands and legs. Wear a hat to protect your scalp, ears, and face, and keep in mind that clouds do not block the sun's harmful UV rays. It's just as important to apply sunscreen or wear a hat on cloudy days as it is on sunny ones.
  2. Be vigilant around water. Drownings often happen when they are least expected when there are many people around. The problem is, people who are drowning don't usually look like they're drowning. There's no splashing, thrashing, crying or yelling. A drowning person is often vertical in the water and may manage to get their head or mouth to the surface, but because they are so desperate to breathe, they won't often yell for help. Always watch children around lakes and pools, and know your own limitations. If you're not a strong swimmer, wear a life jacket on the boat and enlist a friend to help supervise pool parties.
  3. Check for ticks. Chances are if you spend any length of time outdoors in Minnesota, you're going to encounter a tick or two. Ticks can carry germs that can cause Lyme disease and other serious illnesses. They live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas and it's not uncommon to get ticks in your own yard or neighborhood. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent and always follow the product's instructions, especially with children. Do not use any insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old, and do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children younger than three years old.
  4. Don't play around fire. Enjoying roasted marshmallows around the campfire is a longstanding Minnesota tradition. However, every year, both children and adults arrive in the emergency room with serious burns they acquired at a campfire. Without exception, children need to be supervised around fire. Fire pokers and marshmallow sticks can become dangerous branding irons if used improperly, and hot marshmallows can cause 3rd degree burns if they fall off and adhere to the skin. Remember, children learn from adults, so be a good role model. Never use an accelerant to start a fire, and never toss fireworks or any other combustible items into a fire.

After our long, cold Minnesota winter, it's time to kick back and enjoy the upcoming summer months with family and friends. Be smart, be safe, and have fun!