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Fun in the Sun: A Guide to Summer Safety

Heat-Related Illnesses, Heat-Related Emergencies, and Drowning

As temperatures soared during the summer of 2022, national statistics revealed that there were a total of 33 child hot car deaths across the country. In 2023 so far, there have been four deaths reported. With summer arriving, it’s crucial for our community to be aware of simple preventive measures to avoid heat-related illnesses and emergencies.

Here are some important reminders to keep in mind this summer:

  1. Keep infants under six months old out of direct sunlight.
  2. Everyone should use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30.
  3. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing.
  4. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after significant sweating, swimming, or towel drying.
  5. Hang out in shaded areas, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m (midday hours).
  6. Stay hydrated.
    • Adults should drink around half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day.
    • Make hydration enjoyable for children by giving them fruit with high water content—such as watermelon and strawberries—or frozen fruit pops.
    • For infants, consider increasing their intake of formula or breast milk.

While prevention is vital, heat-related illnesses can still occur and escalate rapidly. That’s why everyone should know the warning signs:

  1. Heat cramps: These involuntary muscle spasms usually occur during intense exercise in hot environments. Cramps typically affect the calves, arms, abdominal wall, and back. Treatment involves resting, cooling off, and consuming electrolyte-containing drinks.
  2. Heat exhaustion: This condition involves more severe muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fainting. Other symptoms may include rapid and shallow breathing. Managing heat exhaustion requires resting in a cool place, lying on the back with elevated legs, loosening restrictive clothing, and taking a cool shower if possible. The affected person should consume cool water and electrolyte-containing fluids. If symptoms persist after one hour, seek immediate medical attention.
  3. Heatstroke: This is the most severe heat-related illness and a medical emergency. Heatstroke can be life-threatening and lead to damage in the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles, potentially resulting in death. Symptoms include a severe headache, vomiting, and flushed, red skin without sweating. If you notice any of these signs, call 911 and take steps to cool down the person.

Now, let’s dive into another crucial aspect of summer safety: water safety. Unintentional drowning ranks as the second leading cause of death among children aged one to four, primarily occurring in swimming pools. From May to September 2022, REMSA Health responded to five known pediatric-related near-drowning responses. Drowning is often a silent and motionless event, as patients don’t have the energy to splash around and indicate their distress. Learn more about the warning signs of someone drowning and how to stay safe around water this summer in this video.

Here are some ways you can practice water safety:

  1. Always assign a designated Water Watcher.
    • Water Watchers should wear a tag or carry a whistle indicating their role as they supervise all children near the water.
    • The Water Watcher should not leave their post until the next Water Watcher arrives.
    • Water Watchers should be capable swimmers and remain attentive. If you are the designated Water Watcher, avoid alcohol consumption, using cell phones, reading, multitasking, or socializing.
  2. Never leave a child unattended or under the care of other children near any body of water.
  3. Make sure all children wear life jackets.
  4. For those with pools in their backyards, ensure you have proper fencing and pool alarms. These measures can prevent more than half of all pediatric drownings.
  5. Learn how to provide CPR.
    • REMSA Health offers community courses to those looking to become CPR certified. To learn more about our CPR offerings, click here.

Outdoor adventures and bright sunshine await. Get out there, soak up the sun responsibly, stay hydrated, and make this summer one to remember. 


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