By Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD
Family safety is a priority regardless of the season, but the summer gives us more reason to emphasize simple measures to keep out of harm’s way.
- Pool Safety: Be sure to swim only where there are lifeguards or adult supervision. Always use life jackets during water activities and when near open bodies of water such as the oceans, rivers and lakes. Never leave your children unattended around water. Maintain barriers such as fences and locks to keep children away from unattended pool areas.
- Food Safety: Summertime is often associated with outdoor barbeques and picnics. Mayonnaise, milk, eggs, meat, poultry and seafood should not be kept at room temperature for more than an hour or two (one hour max if it’s hotter than 90 degrees outside). Be sure to thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables. If you are traveling with food, be sure use plenty of ice packs and ice to keep food cool.
- Bug Safety: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend an insect repellent that contains 10 to 30 percent DEET for children two months old or older. The DEET percentage represents how long it’s effective: 10 percent will provide protection up to two hours while 30 percent will cover you up to five hours. Do not apply DEET to face or hands. DEET is effective in preventing insect-related diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. For a greener approach to bug busting, organic mosquito repellents are available in most pharmacies.
- Sun Safety: Make sure you apply sunscreen before leaving the house. The American Cancer Society recommends wearing SPF 15. Stay in the shade as much as possible during the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Make sure to re-apply sunscreen every one to two hours when swimming or if excessively sweating. Wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses.
- Heat Safety: Limit time outdoors when the weather is extremely hot and humid. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go to public places that do like shopping malls, libraries and grocery stores. Avoid hot, enclosed places, such as cars. Wear light-colored and light-weight clothing, and drink plenty of water before and during your time outdoors. Heat stress in children and adults can lead to serious health issues very quickly. The very young and the very old are at most risk for heat exhaustion because of their inability to handle high temperatures. If you are taking the kids to the playground, check the temperature of the playground equipment, as it can get very hot and could burn your child.
8 Signs of Heat Over-Exposure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating (However, if heat stroke sets in, the body can no longer compensate and may stop sweating)
- Muscle cramps
- Dark-colored urine
- Fainting, confusion, dizziness or disorientation
6 Tips for Overcoming Heat Stroke
- Move the person out of the sun and into a cool area. An air-conditioned area is ideal, but moving someone into the shade will also help.
- Remove any heavy or tight clothing.
- Give the person cool water to drink.
- Mist the skin to help keep him or her cool.
- Apply ice to his or her neck or armpits.
- Immerse the body in cool water, either at a swimming pool or in a bathtub.
If these measures do not cool the person off in 30 minutes, call 9-1-1 and go to your nearest emergency room.
Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD, is a physician at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights and an attending emergency physician at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. She received a bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa., and her medical degree from SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, N.Y. She completed the Jacobi/Montefiore Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and served as chief resident. She enjoys spending her free time cooking, traveling and trying new cuisines with her husband and two young children.
- “12 Heat Safety Tips for the Summer Heat Wave”
- “10 Summer Safety Tips for Kids”
- “Heat Wave Burns the East Coast”
- “Childhood Injury Fact Sheet”