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Top Ten Tips for Fun in the Sun

“It’s important to think safety when you’re having summer fun. Away on vacation, spending a day at the beach, or enjoying your own back yard, accidents can happen when you least expect it,” says family medicine physician Jennifer Turkish, M.D. “Keep these tips in mind for a sure bet on summer fun.”

1) Swimming & Pools

Alcohol and swimming don’t mix. Don’t swim alone. Watch children at all times in the pool and near pools and spas. If you have a pool, make sure you have up-to-date safety equipment. Each year, about 300 children drown in residential pools, and another 2,300 under age 5 are hospitalized. Always use life vests on boats, docks, and around deep or swift water.

2) All-Terrain Vehicles

If you ride ATVs, take a training course, don’t ride double, wear protective gear, don’t ride on paved roads, and don’t drink when you ride.

3) Barbecues

Learn how to properly operate your barbecue, keep a fire extinguisher handy, put the barbecue in a safe place (preferably not on a wooden deck), check the equipment frequently, keep your grill clean, and don’t drink alcohol when you grill. It’s also important to watch children playing around hot grills.

4) Dehydration & Heat Stroke

It’s easy to get overheated in the summer as the temperature climbs. To prevent dehydration and heat stroke, drink lots of water, wear cool clothing, stay out of the sun, and don’t drink alcohol. Don’t leave your children or the elderly in a vehicle unattended. On warm days, the temperature can rise to 120 degrees in minutes, even with the windows slightly open. According to a study done by General Motors, 120 children died between 1996 and 2000 from being left in hot cars during the summer. Most were under the age of three.

5) Playgrounds

The surface temperature of playground equipment can climb to 140 degrees or more. At that heat, a child can suffer second and third degree burns in just a few seconds. Parents should touch the surfaces of play equipment with the back of their hand before letting children play. Children wearing light colored clothing are at the least risk of bee stings and other bug bites. Always keep a helmet on a child who is riding a bicycle, rollerblading or skateboarding. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 85 percent of bicyclists killed in 2003 reportedly were not wearing helmets.

6) Lawn Mowing

About 75,000 Americans adults and children are injured in lawn mowing accidents each year. Don’t let a child sit on your lap when you’re operating a riding lawn mower. It’s a good idea to keep children out of the yard when you’re mowing. Remove rocks and sticks from the yard before mowing, use protective equipment, turn off the motor before removing debris from the blades, and add fuel properly.

7) Food

Food poisoning increases during the summer because bacteria grow faster in the heat. Keep everything clean, keep raw meat and poultry chilled, use a meat thermometer, and don’t let food sit out for more than two hours. If it’s more than 90 degrees, it’s one hour.

8) Eye Care

The eyes of both adults and children can be damaged by powerful UV rays. Wear sunglasses that filter out UV light.

9) Car Accidents

Driving accidents are the number one killer of young people in the U.S. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. Take a break on long trips – never drive if you’re tired. Make sure children are strapped in correctly in a properly fitting seat belt, car seat or booster seat.

10) Sunburn

More than one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. annually. Getting sunburned can increase your chances of getting skin cancer. Limit sun exposure, wear protective clothing, and always use an SPF of at least 20 or higher, applied 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen after swimming, sports and other activities.

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