Summer Safety Tips
Never swim alone, always swim at beaches with lifeguards!
Talk with the lifeguard before entering the ocean. The lifeguard is familiar with the beach and can tell you where the safest places are to swim.
Know How To Swim! Swimming in a pool is not the same as swimming at a surf beach with crashing waves, winds and currents that can change suddenly.
Swimming in currents and waves is much more difficult than swimming in a pool. The conditions of the currents and waves can change quickly, unlike in a pool where there is consistency. Swimming in currents and waves will also cause fatigue more quickly than swimming in a pool. Smooth water located between breaking waves could signal the presence of a rip current. Ask the lifeguard about the use of a United States Coast Guard-approved flotation device. Further, your body will cool quickly while in the water. Limit your time in the water and get out if you start to feel cold.
Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. Different beaches may use different colors but a commonly used series include:
- Double Red: beach is closed to the public
- Single Red: high hazard (e.g., strong surf or currents)
- Yellow: medium hazard
- Green: calm conditions, although caution is still necessary
- Purple: flown with either red or yellow: Dangerous marine life, but not sharks.
Take your cell phone to the beach. In case of an emergency where the lifeguard is not present, call 911.
There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, when thunder roars, go indoors! Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach. Unfortunately, these delayed actions lead to many of the lightning deaths and injuries in the U.S.
The best way to protect yourself from lightning is to avoid the threat. You simply don't want to be caught outside in a storm. Have a lightning safety plan, and cancel or postpone activities early if thunderstorms are expected. Monitor weather conditions and get to a safe place before the weather becomes threatening. Substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles are safe options. Rain shelters, small sheds and open vehicles are not safe.
A safe shelter from lightning is either a substantial building or a enclosed metal vehicle. A safe building is one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor, and has plumbing or wiring. Examples include a home, school, church, hotel, office building or shopping center. Once inside, stay away from showers, sinks, bath tubs and electronic equipment such as stoves, radios, corded telephones and computers.
Unsafe buildings include car ports, open garages, covered patios, picnic shelters, beach pavilions, golf shelters, tents of any kinds, baseball dugouts, sheds and greenhouses.
A safe vehicle is any fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle such as a hard-topped car, minivan, bus, truck, etc. While inside a safe vehicle, do not use electronic devices such as radio communications during a thunderstorm. If you drive into a thunderstorm, slow down and use extra caution. If possible, pull off the road into a safe area. Do not leave the vehicle during a thunderstorm. Unsafe vehicles include golf carts, convertibles, motorcycles or any open cab vehicle.
Heat Related Illness
What causes heat exhaustion and heatstroke?
Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, occur when your body can't keep itself cool. As the air temperature rises, your body stays cool when your sweat evaporates. On hot, humid days, the evaporation of sweat is slowed by the increased moisture in the air. When sweating isn't enough to cool your body, your body temperature rises, and you may become ill.
What is heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion happens when your body gets too hot. It can be caused by physical exercise or hot weather. You may experience:
- Heavy sweating
- Feeling weak and/or confused
- Fast heartbeat
- Dark-colored urine, which indicates dehydration
What should I do if I think I have heat exhaustion?
If you think you have heat exhaustion, get out of the heat quickly. Rest in a building that has air conditioning. If you can't get inside, find a cool, shady place to rest. Drink plenty of water or other fluids. Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks (such as soda). These can make heat exhaustion worse. Take a cool shower or bath, or apply cool water to your skin. Take off any tight or unnecessary clothing.
If you do not feel better within 30 minutes, you should contact your doctor. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can progress to heatstroke.
The summer months increase the potential of infection with encephalitis from viruses carried by mosquitoes, including Eastern Equine and West Nile. Observation of the five D's of protection reduce the low risk of infection:
- Avoid Dusk and Daw
- Use DEET repellants
- Do wear long sleeve shirts and pants if out at prime mosquito feeding times
- Drain potential mosquito breeding sites from around your house