We all love summer. Long, beautiful days of sunshine tempt us outside – and into the water to cool down. The National Safety Council (NSC), however, reminds us that July and August are the deadliest times of the year. From heat-related illnesses to burns and drownings, summer events present all kinds of safety hazards.
Between 2005 and 2014, there were about 10 drowning deaths every day in the United States. If you add in boating-related drownings, increase that number to about 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Local news stories invariably quote parents as saying they only looked away for a moment. But, that’s all it takes. The CDC cautions parents to remain vigilant when your child is in or near water. Don’t depend on a lifeguard or anyone else and don’t become distracted.
Prevent heat stroke
When the mercury rises, so does the danger of heat-related illnesses. The National Safety Council (NSC) identifies three such illnesses:
Heatstroke – The most serious of the three, heatstroke occurs when a person’s body temperature rises quicker than the body’s ability to sweat. The NSC says that “The brain and vital organs are effectively ‘cooked’ as body temperature rises to a dangerous level in a matter of minutes. Heatstroke is often fatal, and those who do survive may have permanent damage to their organs.”
Symptoms of heat stroke include skin that is overly hot to the touch, confusion, coma, and seizures. The NSC recommends that someone suffering from heat stroke must be placed in a half-sitting position in a shady spot, sprayed with water and fanned vigorously and, if the humidity level is more than 75 percent, apply ice to the armpits, neck or groin.
Don’t give the victim anything to drink or any pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or aspirin. And call for medical help right away.
Heat exhaustion — The symptoms of heat exhaustion mimic those of the flu and include fatigue, thirst, nausea, headache and vomiting. The person may sweat profusely and the skin will appear pale and feel clammy.
“Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heatstroke, so make sure to treat the victim quickly,” cautions the NSC. Move the victim to an air-conditioned area if possible, otherwise, find a shady spot, give him or her water to drink and apply wet towels to the body. A cool shower is also recommended.
Heat cramps – When you exercise in extreme heat you may suffer muscle spasms and cramps, typically in the abdominal muscles or legs. These cramps are the result of a lack of salt in the body due to excessive sweating. Relieve them by sitting in the shade, drinking sports drinks, stretching and seeing a doctor if the symptoms aren’t relieved within one hour.