There’s nothing quite like a barbecue and pool party in the summer. As school lets out for summer, you can be sure families and communities will be opening their swimming pools for months of water fun!
Of course, when playing near water, it’s so important to be mindful of the possible dangers that go along with it. Every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. 20% of those were ages 14 and younger. It is the 5th cause of unintentional death in the United States. 80% of drowning victims were male and children (ages 1-4) have the highest rate of drowning. Additionally, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools (cdc.gov). With these statistics in mind, please take into consideration the following when enjoying the summer sun and water with your family:
Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool or body of water. Just because a child has had swimming lessons or swims regularly, does not mean that they won’t drown. Children need to be watched while swimming. Additionally, life jackets or flotation devices are no substitute for actually watching your children.
Swim with a buddy. Don’t swim alone!
Fence the pool area. If you have a pool, install a fence with a gate. Self-latching and self-closing gates can be tricky for small children to open.
Use a Pool Alarm. Attach a small alarm to the fence around the pool for added security. There are even alarms for children (or pets) that cannot swim. These alarms look like a wristwatch. The parent puts the wristband around the child’s wrist and locks it. If the wristband goes underwater, it sounds an alarm. Companies like Safety Turtle specialize in products that enhance water safety. The Safety Turtle website has several products available that protect children against water related injuries. http://www.safetyturtle.com/
Learn CPR. Many YMCA’s and other local organizations, have CPR and First Aid classes during the year. It’s a good idea for anyone that has children to learn CPR and basic first aid. You just never know when you’ll need lifesaving information.
Learn the signs of drowning. Mario Vittone, USCG Aviation Survival Technician, 1st Class, contributed to an article in On Scene, The Journal of US Coast Guard Search and Rescue (www.hsi.com). The following points are taken from this article in an effort to identify what drowning actually looks like:
- Most times, people that are drowning cannot call out for help.
- Their mouths go under the water and then reappear above the water. Their mouths are not above the water long enough for them to breathe.
- They cannot wave for help. Their bodies are in “survival” mode, and thus, they are trying to keep their mouths above water to breathe.
- They can’t help themselves “not drown.” Their bodies are instinctively trying to keep the mouth above water to breathe, so all effort and energy goes to that purpose.
- They don’t kick their legs and are, essentially “standing” in the water. If not rescued, they will only last in this position for 20-60 seconds before going underwater.
While this blog post is, by no means, a comprehensive list of guidelines, it is a good start to keeping your family safe. We fully encourage you to review the following websites for more information that can help keep your family safe when spending time near the pool or any body of water.
It can be overwhelming to walk into a store and choose a sunscreen. There are so many brands, options, and abbreviations. Who has time to stop and read ALL the labels for the important information? Well, here are some guidelines to follow the next time you arrive at the “Summer Aisle” at Wal-Mart, and have some difficulty picking out a sunscreen.
SPF means Sun Protection Factor. The SPF means if you use the sunscreen, your skin will not burn as fast as if you were not using it. For example, if you use an SPF 20, you can stay in the sun 20 minutes longer than if you were not wearing the sunscreen with SPF 20.
Just because the SPF is higher does not mean you are getting better protection. Because 100 is twice as much as 50, sunbathers are often misled into thinking that SPF 100 is twice as protective as SPF 50. That is not the case. SPF 100 is only about 1% more effective than SPF 50. SPF 50 protects 98% of rays, but SPF 100 protects 99%.
Find a sunblock that deflects UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the main culprit of wrinkling and aging. UVA rays are absorbed into the skin, but most sunscreens block these rays. UVB rays are the rays that produce sunburns, and are the main culprit that causes skin cancer. Sunscreens will chemically absorb the UV rays. Sunblocks will deflect the UV rays. It is important to find a screen or block that advertises a ‘Broad Spectrum’ of protection. These products will protect against UV rays.
Don’t use a spray sunscreen or a powder sunscreen. There is a growing risk that these products may pose an inhalation risk. It is also difficult to cover all of the skin when using a spray, which leaves some parts of the skin exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Also, using a sunscreen and insect repellent combination can be harmful. Sunscreen in this combination can lead to the skin’s absorption of toxic insect repellent ingredients.
Tanning oils offer very little protection against the sun’s rays. Sunbathers want to avoid any products with low SPF’s, as they don’t protect well against the sun’s UV rays. Using products with an SPF of lower than 15 comes with an increased risk of developing skin cancer, as well as wrinkling and leathering of the skin.
If you are looking for a safe and effective sunscreen or sunblock, I encourage you to look at the website listed below, the Environmental Working Group. Most of the sunscreens on the market in the United States are listed on this website, and each have a number “grade” from 1 to 9 (one is the best, nine the worst). These grades are based on the toxic ingredients found in sunscreen, as well as their effectiveness. It might surprise you to find out what grade your current sunscreen has earned. The website also has more information regarding the use of sunscreens and sunblocks.
Thanks for reading today’s article! Be safe out there.
Summer is here – especially in Texas, where the temperatures will be in the 90’s and higher for the next few months. Our employees work outside, so taking care of themselves in hazardous climates is important. This will be the first in a series on taking care of your health in hot weather conditions.
It isn’t known what causes heat cramps; however, it is thought to be related to an electrolyte and mineral imbalance. Heat cramps will generally happen to muscles that are tired or fatigued by heavy work. People most at risk for heat cramps will work in a hot environment or people that sweat a lot. In order to prevent heat cramps, make sure you are staying hydrated, and keep cool.
Heat exhaustion can occur if you have been in the heat for days, and become dehydrated. Heat exhaustion can be from water depletion or salt depletion.
Water depletion symptoms can include thirst, weakness, headache, or loss of consciousness.
Salt depletion symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, regular muscle cramps, and dizziness.
People most at risk for heat exhaustion are children under the age of 4, and adults over the age of 65. It takes longer for these two demographics to adjust to the heat than other people. People with certain health conditions (such as diabetes, heart, lung, or kidney disease, or high blood pressure) may be at a higher risk for heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that if not treated by a physician, can turn into heat stroke.
First Aid for Heat Exhaustion
- Drink plenty of fluid (avoid alcoholic beverages or drinks with caffeine)
- Remove tight or unnecessary clothing
- Take a cool shower, or bath
- Use fans or ice towels to cool the body temperature
If symptoms don’t improve in 30 minutes, contact a doctor immediately.
According the CDC, about 440 people die each year from heat stroke. This is the most serious form of heat injury. Call 911 immediately if you think someone has heat stroke. It can progress from lesser heat related illnesses, such as heat cramps, but can still occur if there were no warning signs or symptoms.
It occurs from exposure to high temperatures and dehydration. This causes the body to be unable to regulate its temperature.
- Extremely high body temperature
- Throbbing headache
- Muscle cramps
- Lack of sweat, regardless of the heat
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Rapid heart beat (strong or weak pulse)
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Confusion / Disorientation
- Loss of consciousness
First Aid for Heat Stroke
- Call 911 immediately if you suspect someone has had a heat stroke
- Move the person to an air conditioned room, or to a shady area
- Remove any unnecessary clothing
- Fan air over the patient while wetting the skin with water from a sponge or hose
- Apply ice packs to the armpits, groin, neck, and back
- Immerse the person in cool water or shower
Heat related illness can be serious, and, even life threatening. It’s important to stay hydrated and cool when working outdoors, or in the heat. If you feel like you are suffering from heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, notify someone immediately, and take a break! Be safe out there!
This article, in no way, can replace the diagnosis of a trained medical physician, and it is not designed to do so. If you have questions regarding your health, it is essential to seek a professional medical evaluation.