I love summertime, a chance to kick back and take some time off. Kids are out of school for the summer and the pace has slowed down. The summer also signals a slowdown in preparedness – I know… even blog visits get a bit slower. People go out of town, go on vacation and relax, which is just fine. But summer also has its own share of dangers that are often overlooked in the excitement.
Heat Related Illnesses
Sunburn: Everyone has had one- when you forget to bring sunscreen or just ignore the need for it because you’re having too much fun. Last summer we went to the river with another family and had a great time. We came prepared, and brought lots of sunscreen. I slathered it on myself and the kids. But my cousin decided she didn’t want to bother with it. I reminded her mid-day to reapply sunscreen or cover up as her back was getting really red. She didn’t feel like it. Well, the next day she called me and said she should’ve listened, because she got a really bad burn. Always pack plenty of sunscreen and reapply every couple of hours.
Heat Stroke: Excessive heat can render a body to be unable to regulate its temperature. Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature spikes up rapidly and the body is unable to cool down through sweating. A victim of heat stroke must be treated as soon as possible. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, high temperature, hot skin and not sweating; this can lead to unconsciousness or even death. Make sure everyone drinks plenty of fluids and stay as cool as possible. A cooling scarf or even just a wet bandanna around your neck can help alleviate heat.
Heat Rash: Heat rash is irritated skin from too much heat. The rash appears to be small, red pimples and blisters. Skin must be kept cool and dry to relieve discomfort.
Heat Exhaustion Heat exhaustion results from exposure to extreme heat, while lacking fluids. Symptoms include heavy sweating, dizziness, pale skin, nausea, vomiting and fainting. This is dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart problems – get treatment right away if severe symptoms are present. Try to avoid strenuous activities during the hottest times of the day.
Many people stay outdoors longer in the summer, resulting in more contact with insects. Bee and wasp stings are common, along with mosquito bites, ticks and fleas etc. Stings can be dangerous for people who are severely allergic. They may be hard to avoid, so carry a first aid kit in your car or someplace handy. Include Benadryl, Zyrtec or an Epi-penif severely allergic. Bring insect repellant or keep a citronella candle handy when spending time outdoors.
Summer also means frequent car trips, and there is nothing worse than being stranded in the heat, in an unfamiliar place. Avoid the trauma of getting stuck by being prepared:
- Carry a car survival kit
- Maintain your car – always get the car serviced before long trips
- Carry extra water and food in the car
- Plan your route ahead of time.
- Don’t be overly reliant on GPS, have paper maps and printed directions
Getting lost in the wilderness
No one thinks about possibly getting lost while planning day trips or camping trips, but it happens frequently. Just look at a couple of news stories:
These stories turned out well, but so many others take a bad turn. Avoid the pain of getting lost with these tips:
- Educate kids on the dangers of wandering away
- Plan every hike or day trip to the last detail, even short ones.
- Prepare for contingencies by packing plenty of food, water and survival equipment. My new book shows kids how being prepared can be fun.
- Everyone in the group should wear a whistle that they can use in an emergency
- Wear brightly colored clothes so they can be easily spotted.
Every year there are reports of drownings in backyard pools, lakes and beaches.
Be vigilant especially with young children – never take your eyes off them when in the water. Even teens and adults can over-estimate their capabilities. Swimming lessons and pool safety are recommended for everyone.
ID theft is a year round risk, but with increased travel during the summer, there is more exposure to the threat. I prefer to use cash but you also need to be mindful of who can see you pulling out bills from your wallet. Have your money ready when paying so you don’t attract attention.
Or, use credit instead of debit cards especially when paying at the pump in a gas station. Use ATM machines at banks instead of stand alone cash machines in gas stations or stores. Also use cash or credit cards instead of debit cards while paying at restaurants, flea markets etc. The reason is credit cards often have a $50 limit in your out of pocket liability in the event of theft, while debit cards vary. Your bank account may very well get cleaned out or frozen in the event of theft.
Some mishaps are non-controllable but being prepared means doing a little planning so you can minimize threats that can ruin your summer.