Originally created 06/26/02

Take proper precautions in warm weather

Summer activities tend to get children outside more. While going outside usually entails more physical activity, it also includes some summertime risks that parents should be aware of.

Water hazards

The Red Cross recommends the following precautions to swimmers and their parents.

  • Always swim with a buddy - NEVER alone.
  • Know your limits and stay within them. Don't try to keep up with a stronger swimmer.
  • Watch out for the dangerous "toos" - too tired, too cold, too far, too much sun.
  • Do not chew gum or eat while swimming. You could easily choke.
  • Always obey "no diving" signs. Always enter feet first when you don't know the depth.
  • At the beach, if you get caught in a rip current, don't fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you get out of the current and head to shore. If you cannot get out of the current, float calmly until it dissipates and swim diagonally to shore.
  • Alcohol and swimming do not mix. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination. It also reduces the body's ability to stay warm.
  • Sun safety

  • The sun can damage the skin in as little as 15 minutes. But it can take up to 12 hours to see the full effect.
  • Even a huge shade umbrella won't completely block the sun's damaging rays. Combine strategies: avoid the midday sun, wear sunscreen with a high SPF and seek shade whenever possible.
  • Clothing that covers your skin also helps against sunburn, but may still allow some rays to come through. Add some sunscreen under T-shirts.
  • Hats shade the face, scalp, ears and neck. If you opt for a baseball cap to shade your face, don't forget to put sunscreen on your ears and neck.
  • For children, be sure that sunscreen contains Sun Protection Factor of 15 or higher and UVA and UVB protection.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply during the day, even waterproof and water resistant lotions need to be reapplied.
  • Even on cool and cloudy days the sun's rays are at work. Be sure to keep sunscreen on.
  • If you do happen to get sunburned, follow these steps to soothe your skin:

  • Cool the area with clean towels, cloths or gauze dipped in cool water. Or take a cool shower or bath.
  • Take a pain reliever for pain and headache and to reduce fever. (Unless of course, you have allergies to these medications.)
  • Use an over-the-counter topical steroid cream such as Cortaid if the pain persists.
  • Rest in a comfortable position, in a cool, quiet room.
  • Drink plenty of water to replace fluid loss.
  • Avoid using local anesthetic creams or sprays, such as Benzocaine, because they can cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • If you have any of the following reactions, which are symptoms of dehydration, seek medical attention immediately:

  • confusion
  • very little or no urine output
  • sunken eyes
  • wrinkled or saggy skin
  • extreme dryness in the mouth
  • Don't forget to protect your eyes. Eye specialists recommend wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of all ultraviolet light. The color and degree of darkness or the price, are no indication of the lenses' ability to block UV light.

    Beat the heat

    Excessive heat can impair judgment and cause confusion. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be prevented with the following safety measures:

  • Drink plenty of liquids before you get thirsty.
  • Dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
  • Avoid midday heat; save vigorous activity for before noon and after 4 p.m.
  • Wear a hat or use an umbrella to block the sun's rays.
  • Eat light; avoid heavy, hot meals and opt for foods high in water content, such as fruits, salads and soups.
  • Take baths and showers. Because water conducts heat away from the body, tepid water is a good cooling technique.
  • Children are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses. The U.S. Soccer Federation recommends these precautions:

  • Have a drink schedule for kids, so they are consuming liquids regularly. During an activity, children should drink every 20 minutes. A child who weighs less than 90 pounds needs five ounces of fluid; a child more than 90 pounds needs nine ounces.
  • If your child doesn't like water, use sports drinks. They are more likely to drink regularly when they like the drink's taste. Avoid fruit juices or sodas that contain higher levels of sugar and can upset the stomach.
  • Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone becomes, fatigued, dizzy or nauseated, or has a headache during activity, have them stop, rest and drink fluids. Seek medical attention if the symptoms persist.
  • Don't forget your pets in hot weather.

  • Be sure they have plenty of clean water.
  • Be sure they have the option of shade if they are outside animals.
  • Avoid exercising them in hot weather.
  • Avoid walking your dog on hot pavement, it can burn its paws.
  • NEVER leave a pet in a parked vehicle.
  • Definitions

  • Funnel Cloud: A rotating column of air that does not touch the ground.

  • Heat index: This index measures how hot it feels to the body when moisture is added to the actual air temperature, said Jeff Rucker, chief meteorologist at television station WAGT(Channel 26).
  • Ozone: The ozone layer above the Earth is a vital protective shield. Its most important function for us is to filter out Ultra Violet rays from sunlight, which harm humans, animals, plants and micro-organisms. On the other hand, ground-level ozone is dangerous for our health. Mr. Rucker said that this area has an ozone problem, due to pollution and the heat which keeps the ozone near the ground. The problem is particularly bad in summer when, because of the heat, ozone remains trapped near the ground. On days when the ozone is bad, limit the amount of time you are outside exerting yourself. (This is more of a problem for those with asthma, the elderly and small infants.)
  • Tornado warning: The warning alerts the public that a tornado has been spotted.
  • Tornado watch: The watch alerts the public that conditions are favorable for tornadoes.

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