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Ask The Expert: Summer Safety

News Story

Associate Director of University Health Care Karen Martin shares ways for Setters to keep cool this summer. Here's what you need to know about staying safe on the water, dealing with ticks and mosquitoes, and so much more.

Whether your choice summertime activity is slurping down oysters or lounging by the pool, chances are you’ll be spending extra time outside. And while you’ll probably be out there having tons of fun in the sun, it’s important to remember that, especially in the blistering heat, safety always comes first. To prepare for the coming barbecues, pool parties, and beach days, we chatted with Pace’s own Karen Martin, FNP-C, associate director of University Health Care and summer safety expert, who provided us with the following crucial tips and tricks to help us enjoy summer responsibly:

Pool and Water Safety
•    Drowning is the leading cause of death among children, especially children under five. If your child doesn’t know how to swim, be sure to teach them how to swim or provide swimming lessons with a focus on swim safety.
•    Ensure there is at least one adult supervising a child or group of children while around water.
•    Do not dive in shallow water. Always enter feet first. 
•    In regards to small pools that are plastic or have a soft side that a child can fall in headfirst—be sure to secure any attachments around those types of pools (tubing, filters) to avoid someone tripping and falling into the pool.
•    Noodles and floatable toys are not substitutes for safety devices—be sure to use approved lifejackets, especially if you’re boating or at the beach.

Beach Safety
•    Watch out for riptides and currents, and be sure to swim only when lifeguards are on duty. If you hear thunder or see lightning, immediately get out of the water and seek shelter.
•    Weather preparedness: be sure to know weather conditions ahead of time—simply be aware of your environment and what’s happening.

Insects, Mosquitoes, and Ticks
•    Be sure to empty any standing water from outdoor containers—such as flower pots, pools, birdbaths, trash cans, etc.
•    Sweep your driveway after it rains to avoid puddle buildup.
•    Use DEET (between 20-30%) on any exposed skin and clothing.
•    To prevent Lyme disease after spending time gardening, camping, hiking, or just playing outdoors, shower within two hours of returning inside. Conduct a body check, particularly behind the ears, under the arms, and the belly button. 

Food Safety
•    Warm weather causes food to spoil more quickly—to prevent food-borne illness, wash surfaces, hands, and utensils thoroughly.
•    Avoid cross-contaminating your foods.
•    In terms of preparing your food, it’s important to keep everything at the right temperature. Thaw your meats in the refrigerator or under cold running water, not at room temperature.
•    Marinating meats should occur in the refrigerator, not out on the counter.
•    The danger zone for food is between 40–140 degrees Fahrenheit (when harmful bacteria can multiply more quickly).
•    Store and transport your food safely—pack all coolers with ice. It is always prudent to devote one to food, one to beverages. Keep in a shady area. Avoid opening the lid too often. 

Fire and Grill Safety
•    Keep all lighters and matches away from children.
•    Check any connections between the propane tank and fuel line before you start grilling.
•    Never grill in an enclosed area, such as a garage. Carbon monoxide gas can be produced, causing illness and death. 
•    If you’re using coal, be sure to dispose of hot coal properly. Douse in water, and NEVER dispose in plastic, paper, or wooden containers. Use metal only.

Heat and Sun
•    Apply sunscreen prior to going outdoors. Sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 is recommended.
•    When using sun lotion or cream, be sure it contains both UV-A and UV-B.
•    Avoid heavy sun exposure during peak hours (11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.)
•    Look or be aware of the UV Heat index, which measures strength of sun rays. The higher the number, the higher the risk of sun exposure.
•    Drink water, even before you feel thirsty. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks should not be considered a substitute. Make sure to also drink water with these substances.
•    Infants and young children under four and the elderly are at highest risk for heat-related illnesses.

Keeps these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to having a happy, healthy, and memorable summer. And don't forget: if you or your family is feeling under the weather, schedule an appointment at University Health Care (UHC) and get the care you need right here at Pace. Learn more about UHC or schedule your appointment here.