Don’t let the summer fun lead to ER

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Although school has already been out for a month, summer officially starts today, June 20.
With that in mind, it’s time to remind everyone – children and adults alike – to put safety first this summer.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), summer is when you are most likely to be injured, with emergency room visits spiking by about 20 percent during June, July and August.
ER doctors say some of the most common summer ailments are heat-related illnesses, like heat stroke or heat exhaustion, head injuries, burns and water-related injuries.
Follow these tips (mostly from the CPSC) to stay safe this summer:
u Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after any strenuous activity.
u Practice sun safety. Protect your skin with hats and tightly woven clothing. Wear a high SPF sunscreen and reapply it after a few hours in the sun or a dip in the water. Even one sunburn can lead to skin cancer. Children and adults should also wear sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of ultraviolet rays to protect their eyes. And try to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day, from noon to 4 p.m.
u Wear a helmet and other safety gear when skating or skateboarding, and when riding bikes, scooters, all-terrain vehicles and horses. Studies have shown bike helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
u Before operating an ATV or boat, be sure you know the laws associated with them and follow all safety rules. South Carolina children, ages 6 to 15, must take a safety course before operating an ATV and wear a helmet and eye protection. Children under 6 may not drive an ATV. Boaters should also take a safe boating course. If you will be boating, water or jet skiing, be sure to wear a personal flotation device and be aware of others in or on the water.
u Prevent swimming pool tragedies by using layers of protection. Place barriers completely around pool to prevent access. Use door and pool alarms. Closely supervise children near pools. Don’t allow anyone to swim alone. Be prepared in case of an emergency.
u Make sure home playground equipment is safe, with at least 9 inches of wood chips or mulch under it. Falls cause 60 percent of playground injuries, so a safe surface under it is critical.
u Use softer-than-standard baseballs, safety-release bases and batting helmets with face guards to reduce baseball-related injuries, especially with younger children.
u Soccer parents should beware that movable soccer goals can fall over and kill children. Make sure the goal is anchored securely at all times and never allow anyone to climb on the net or goal framework or hang from the cross bar.
u Allow only one person on a trampoline at a time, and do not allow somersaults. Use a shock-absorbing pad that completely covers the springs and keep the trampoline away from structures and other play areas. Children under 6 should not use full-size trampolines.
u Don’t allow a game of hide-n-seek to become deadly. Childproof or remove old appliances and warn children not to play inside them.
u Summer means barbecues, but take care when grilling. Never bring charcoal grills indoors. Burning charcoal produces deadly carbon monoxide. When cooking outdoors with a gas grill, check air tubes and hoses before firing up the grill. If you detect a leak, turn off the gas at the tank and don’t try to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
u If you go camping, use one of the new portable heaters with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) to heat your tent or camper. The ODS automatically shuts down the heater before it can produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide (CO). Do not use alternative sources of heat or power to warm a tent or camper.
u Install window guards to prevent children from falling out of open windows or install window stops that permit windows to open no more than 4 inches. Whenever possible, open windows from the top. Keep furniture away from windows to discourage children from climbing near windows.
u When mowing, keep small children out of the yard. Turn the mower off if children enter the area. Never carry children on a riding mower.
Keep these common-sense tips in mind for a wonderful, fun and safe summer.
Happy summer.