12 Jun Summer safety: Pets, kids & you
The mantra of every parent to their growing children is “Make good choices!” The same goes for all of us when it comes to summer safety in New England – an all-too-brief respite from the cold and snow. So, let’s talk about the things that will keep you out of the emergency room and avoid the pitfalls of the season for your kids, pets and co-workers.
Heat: Extreme heat is the enemy of good health. Make sure your kids and pets have plenty of water and never leave them in the car even for just a quick errand. Also, be mindful about becoming dehydrated. Sweating depletes your electrolytes. Soft drinks and anything else with caffeine are not the answer, however. Beyond water, having sports drinks or beverages with the electrolytes potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium can keep you refreshed. That goes for your work, as well.
Sun: Compliments on your healthy “glow” from a sun tan may be welcome in your youth but they will be long forgotten when you’re getting skin carved away when basal cell carcinoma or melanoma is discovered a couple of decades later. For pale people, smather on the high SPF (sun protection factor) lotion when you expect to be outside for long periods. Be particularly focused on ears, noses, tops of the feet and shoulders that take the brunt of the sun. Wide brimmed hats and long sleeves are an equally good solution.
Wildlife: Let’s start with the growing incidence of tick bites. Make it a regular practice to check everyone for ticks after walks in the woods and fields. If you find that a tick has muckled onto you, remove it and put it into a baggie. If the bite develops a red ring around it, bring yourself and the tick to your doctor to get checked.
If you’re planning a trip with wildlife in the vicinity, critters are not Disney characters. Though 99 percent of the world gets it, you don’t want to be THAT guy who gets attacked because you wanted your picture taken with a moose, bear, coyote, fox, osprey, snake, buffalo, etc. Even cows can be killers. According to news reports, about 200 deaths a year are caused by cattle. Stay on the right side of the fence.
Dog bites: We love our pets but lots of outdoor running around increases the possibility of dog bites, particularly with kids. About 4.5 million bites occur each year in the U.S. according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association with about 20 percent needing medical attention. Remind kids not to run away from dogs, to approach them slowly and to ask permission if dogs are on a leash.
Water safety: “I know how to swim!” is what you hear when you offer someone a life vest. The problem is that even strong swimmers have a hard time staying afloat if they’ve been injured (e.g. head, limbs), are trying to support someone else in the water or if the water is just cold enough to cause hypothermia. If you’re out on the water, know where the PFDs (personal floatation devices) are located and, the smaller the craft, the more important it is to wear it. And, just because it needs repeating, don’t dive into shallow water. Know the depth whether in a lake, ocean or pool.
Power equipment: It’s the guy who holds up his two remaining fingers who says, “I’ll give you three reasons to keep your hands away from running machinery.” Everyone can use a reminder to respect the danger of power equipment. Whether trying to clear grass from the mower’s discharge chute or keeping kids and pets away when using the weed whacker, we all have to be mindful of our surroundings and use common sense no matter how inconvenient it may be to shut off the engine.
Chain saws are another menace if you don’t think through what you’re doing and who’s in the vicinity. Tree limbs have tremendous weight and can swing in unpredictable directions. A fallen tree can right itself once the weight has been trimmed off the top and crush the unsuspecting. Saws can buck when encountering nails or hardware from an old tree house. The point is, inspect the work and area beforehand and use the right safety equipment for the circumstances.
With all that said, also check with your insurance agent to be sure you have adequate liability limits. Should you be responsible for the injuries of others, you’ll want to have plenty of coverage for defense costs, medical bills and settlements. It may sound like nagging but we want you to have a safe summer.