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Put Safety First Not Just Tomorrow But All Summer

By Kathy Hubbard

Hey, it’s Fourth of July Eve. Tonight is the night when all good children go to sleep to dream about hot dogs, watermelon, sparklers, water sports, a hot sticky day and eye blasting, ear splitting fireworks. Well, at least I will!

Naturally, I’m going to suggest that we take every precaution to make this holiday, and the rest of the summer, as safe as humanly possible. To do that, we’re going to the National Safety Council to give us some great advice.

At the top of NSC’s list of summer safety tips is to avoid heat-related illnesses and, heaven forbid, death.

“The human body is normally able to regulate its temperature through sweating, until it is exposed to more heat than it can handle. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death. In 2017, 87 people died in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat, according to Injury Facts,” NSC says.

High at risk are infants and young children (please don’t leave them in the car) as well as the elderly and people who are ill, have chronic health conditions or are on some medications, and those who are overweight.

Prevent heat-related illnesses by limiting time outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothes and don’t forget a hat. Drink plenty of fluids. If you’re sweating a lot drink a sports drink or fruit juice to help replace the salt, but don’t drink alcohol it’s a dehydrator. Pace yourself when doing exercises or working outdoors. And, always wear sunscreen. Did you know that sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself? Yup, it does.

Mosquitos are not only a nuisance, they carry diseases. We’ve all heard about Zika and West Nile viruses.

“To prevent mosquito bites, use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellant with DEET and wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants,” NSC says. “Read product labels when using the repellant and apply as directed.”

It’s a good idea not to leave doors and windows open but to turn on the air conditioning. “Mosquitos prefer warm, damp and dark spaces.” NSC also recommends cleaning out empty planters, birdbaths, or the like at least once a week. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water.

Keep your children safe on playgrounds. NSC says that emergency departments see more than 20,000 children under the age of 14 for playground-related traumatic brain injuries each year. Whew.

And, the fourth on the list is for the Fourth of July, be safe with fireworks. I don’t need to remind you, but I will. If you think that the free, area shows aren’t enough of a blast, be sure only to buy legal fireworks. Don’t let the kids touch them. Keep a bucket of water nearby. Wear protective eyewear and keep the fireworks away from people, houses and any inflammable materials.

Please, please be careful around the water. The river has an undertow. The lake is still very cold. “Make sure the body of water matches your skill level,” NSC says. “Swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents.”

If you’re going for a bike ride, be sure to first put on your helmet. Then stick to the bike paths and follow the rules-of-the-road. Remember, vehicles are bigger than you are. And, if that ride is on a skateboard, ditto the previous sentences plus be sure your skateboard is in good working order and that besides the helmet you’re wearing protective gear such as knee and elbow pads and close-toed non-slip shoes.

NSC says, “Life jackets are at the core of safe boating, whether using a motorized or non-motorized vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard reports 76 percent of boating deaths in 2017 were due to drowning, and 84 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket.”

And, just because Sandpoint is a walking town, doesn’t give you license to walk distracted. Put down your phone! Wear bright colors and reflective clothes at night. Watch for cars by looking both ways before crossing the street at a corner or in the crosswalks.

The Emergency Department at Bonner General Health never closes, but we prefer you have a happy holiday!


Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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