Typical summertime activities can come with a great deal of risk. July is the peak month for grill fires. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in the United States; alcohol is involved in 70 percent of those cases. Nothing ruins a picnic in the park like a case of foodborne illness or clouds memories of a peaceful beach vacation like a blistering sunburn. Disaster can strike when appropriate precautions aren’t taken, but fear not – a little planning can go a long way.
Safety at the lake, ocean and pool
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Swim with a buddy – never alone.
- Always accompany children in or near the water.
- Carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard a boat, kayak or canoe.
- Limit or avoid alcohol; it impairs judgment, balance and coordination.
Safety in the backyard
- Wear protective eyewear, sturdy shoes and long pants when mowing the lawn or using power tools and equipment.
- Wear gloves to lower the risk of skin irritation and cuts.
- Follow instructions and warning labels on chemicals and on lawn and garden equipment.
- Keep hazardous chemicals and tools out of children’s reach.
- Remove rocks and other debris from the yard prior to using a lawn mower.
Safety at the picnic table
- Wash your hands before handling food and clean surfaces before setting the table.
- If grilling, don’t serve cooked food with utensils or platters that held raw meat without washing them first.
- Keep cold foods cold. Store cold foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.
- Keep hot foods hot by placing them in an insulated container until serving.
- Put food away after it has been out for two hours; throw it away if it’s out for longer than two hours.
Safety around the grill and campfire
- Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and any overhanging branches.
- Campfires should be built at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs or other materials that can burn.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grates and from trays below the grill.
- Never leave a lit flame unattended.
- Keep a watchful eye over children and pets near the grill or campfire.
Safety in the elements
- Know and respect your limits in the heat and sun.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every two hours.
- Apply insect repellant after sunscreen to exposed skin and/or clothing. Avoid spraying the repellant over cuts, irritated skin or the eyes and mouth.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Watch for signs of a severe thunderstorm (darkening skies, lightning flashes, increased wind) and take cover indoors if you hear thunder or see lightning. If you’re unable to go inside, avoid high ground, tall trees and metal objects.
Keep these tips in mind and enjoy everything summer has to offer with your family and friends.
[Emily Smith is the LHSFNA Health Promotion Division’s Wellness Coordinator.]