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Examiner
  • Advice for your summer safety

  • I may be jumping the gun a bit on this, but Mother Nature's current mood swings have taken us from almost winter to practically summer in the space of a couple of weeks.

    I'd guess we're all pretty hopeful the warm weather will stick around for a few months. But warmer weather brings a predictable set of cases to our Emergency Room and now is a good time to review some summertime safety tips.

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  • I may be jumping the gun a bit on this, but Mother Nature's current mood swings have taken us from almost winter to practically summer in the space of a couple of weeks.
    I'd guess we're all pretty hopeful the warm weather will stick around for a few months. But warmer weather brings a predictable set of cases to our Emergency Room and now is a good time to review some summertime safety tips.
    Mowing:
    Don't let this mundane chore become tragic. Minimize the chances of hitting hidden debris by checking your yard for potential projectiles. Make sure the kids and pets aren't out and don't even think of putting your hands anywhere near a mower's chute until the engine has come to a complete stop. Always wear good, sturdy shoes with a covered toe for mowing.
    Heat:
    Every year we read about children or pets dying after being left in a hot car. Don't fool yourself into thinking you'll just "run in real quick." A car can become an oven within minutes. If you can't take the kids and pets in while you shop, leave them at home.
    Sun Exposure:
    The best defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation exposure is covering up, including hats and sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Stay in the shade whenever possible and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
    When that's not possible, use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays. This should be applied early and often--every two hours, after swimming or sweating. Don't think you can apply it once and you're good for the day. Mild sunburn is best treated with cool compresses to the affected area, while more severe burns may require steroids from your doctor. Be aware that certain medications, such as tetracycline make you more prone to sunburn.
    Fireworks:
    People are still fascinated with fireworks, despite the dangers that include severe burns and lost body parts. People believe sparklers are harmless but they burn at 2,000 degrees. An estimated 20,000 fires are the result of careless use of fireworks. While tempting, fireworks should be left to the experts.
    Grills:
    Burns and fires can also be an issue if you cook on a charcoal grill. Make sure your grill is stable and not likely to tip over and DO NOT add lighter fluid to encourage a fire already in progress.
    Pool Safety:
    Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa - even for a moment. Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult - preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR - should be within arm's length.
    Page 2 of 2 - Motion Safety:
    Make sure helmets are the standard for bicycling, skateboarding and rollerblading. Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water. Adults should also wear life jackets for their own protection--and to set a good example.
    Don't substitute blow-up water wings and toy rafts for life jackets and don't use alcohol when boating.
    Mosquito/Tick protection:
    In addition to being a major annoyance, mosquitoes can carry diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis and West Nile virus (WNV) to humans and animals. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease. Use insect repellents containing DEET when needed to prevent insect-related diseases.
    The current American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control recommendation for children older than two months is using repellents containing10 percent to 30 percent DEET. DEET should not be used on children younger than two months of age.
    Mosquitoes can't grow without water. Ornamental ponds, watering cans, wading pools, buckets and rain gutters can all serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and you may not know it. Get rid of anything, or any situation around your property that allows water to collect and become stagnate.
    We can't do much about Mother Nature's mood swings, but we can be prepared to enjoy what the summer does have in store for us--safely and soundly.
     
    Dr. Kenneth Colaric, M.D., is a specialist in emergency medicine at St. Mary's Medical Center and can be reached at 816-655-5472.
     
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