Summertime Safety 101

Ahh … summertime in Texas. Lake days, evenings at the ball field, afternoons by the pool and those hot, sticky summer nights grilling up burgers are what we live for. During the summer, we get to spend precious time with family and make lasting memories. It is undoubtedly one of the best times of the year (minus the crazy high temperatures, of course), but summertime also brings unique safety hazards that families should be aware of.

Enduring the Texas Heat

Anyone who has ever lived in or visited our area during the summer months will agree that the heat we experience here is “a different kind of heat.” That old tried and true colloquialism proves itself, year after year, as we continually experience high temperatures on top of the humidity in the thick of summer. While we love to joke about the heat we endure, it is that heat that can lead to very serious health issues.

The intensity of the sun can cause people to overheat, leading to heat exhaustion and even heatstroke, and it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of these conditions. Even if you are taking all of the necessary precautions, problems can still occur. With more relaxed summer break schedules, it is very possible for time to get away from you. Someone may easily become overheated after spending an extended amount of time in the sun. Heat exhaustion signs will appear first, and then heatstroke signs will follow. Heat exhaustion signs or symptoms include shallow and fast breathing, clammy skin, dizziness, dry mouth, excessive sweating, fainting, headache, loss of color in skin, nausea, pale complexion, a pulse that is fast and weak, skin that feels damp and cool upon touch, fatigue and vomiting.

Signs of major heat exposure, also known as a “heatstroke,” include dizziness, extremely high body temperature (more than 103 degrees), throbbing headache, lack of sweat, nausea, a rapid, strong pulse and red skin that is hot and dry upon touch. To help your family stay safe in the heat, drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level, and do not drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar (these cause you to lose more body fluid). Stay indoors in an air-conditioned location and wear light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Never leave anyone or a pet in a closed, parked vehicle.

Jessica Rushing, a Frisco-based dermatological physician’s assistant, recommends that readers “either stay indoors or spend time in shaded areas between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.” Most likely, much of your summer is spent outdoors enjoying Mother Nature and catching those rays. “Wearing sun-protective clothing is recommended, and sunglasses are a good idea to protect a child’s eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays while they are outdoors,” Ms. Rushing counsels. Cutting down on exercise during the day, resting in shaded areas and wearing protective clothing items (hats, sunglasses, light-weight, long-sleeved tops, etc.) are helpful for staying safe while in the sun.

Summer Skin Safety

It is vital that we take proper precautions against the sun in regards to our skin, too! Along with making sure we stay cool, we have to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Ms. Rushing explains, “Both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation pose dangers to the skin, including premature aging and risks for skin cancer. In fact, the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers (like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) is damage from UV radiation. While a certain amount of sunlight is recommended to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D, that amount differs depending on skin type, and the amount of sunlight exposure also depends on the time of day a person is exposed to the sun.”

While sporting a summertime glow is something many of us strive for, sunscreen is the best way to ensure that our skin is fully protected while exposed. “The American Academy of Dermatology recommends broad spectrum sunscreen application to children after the age of 6 months. Babies under 6 months should be kept out of the sun, as sunscreen may be too irritating for their sensitive skin,” Ms. Rushing says. While many parents worry about the effects of sunscreen and how to decide which brand/kind is best, Ms. Rushing advises parents that the main factors to consider when choosing a sunscreen include using SPF-30 or higher and ensuring broad-spectrum coverage against UVA and UVB rays. She reminds parents, “It is necessary to apply sunscreen prior to sun exposure and to re-apply about every two hours.” Both UVA and UVB radiation pose dangers to the skin, including premature aging and risks for skin cancer.

Ms. Rushing recommends that readers make a habit of regular skin self-exams in order to be aware of any changes on their skin. When checking your skin, changes to be conscious of include changes in the color, size or shape of a mole. Any lesion that begins to bleed or does not seem to be healing should also raise concern. These things should be brought to the attention of a medical professional, as soon as they are detected.

If you want that sun-kissed glow but do not care to be out in the sun or risk developing skin-related health issues, sunless tanning is a great way to give your skin color, without the harmful UV rays. Shareen Kennawi, the operations manager for Sol Sunless Tanning, brings to light the advantages of sunless tanning. She explains, “Both indoor and outdoor tanning causes damage to our skin. Tanning beds emit roughly 12 times more UVA light than natural sunlight. Sunless tanning gives you fast and safe results without the damage from UV rays. It is not just a tan, it is a healthy treatment, too. Our skin-firming formula builds and restores the skin’s matrix, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. The highly-concentrated antioxidant blend aids in the reversal of daily skin damage.”

A common concern with sunless tanning is looking orange, but Ms. Kennawi clarifies, “Results are natural across a broad spectrum of skin shades and tones. Our solution has a brown base to ensure no orange color development and has odor control.” This facility’s products are 100 percent naturally derived ingredients and feature organic DHA in private label sunless solution.

Many dermatologists consider this mode of achieving that summer-time glow much safer than exposure to the sun’s UV rays, and it is safe to apply sunless tanner as often as once a week, or even every few days, depending on the color you want to achieve. Proper skin care before, during and after sunless tanning will extend the life and look of your tan. It offers a great alternative to that hot Texas sun and it keeps skin safe and out of the line of dangerous sun rays!

Pools, Lakes and Water Fun

Swimming, fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, spending a day out on the boat — you name it–you can do it all right here in Frisco! Water activities are a great way to stay cool and have a wonderful time with friends and family, so water safety is the most vital and life-saving information to provide to our kids.

Before kids even leave for the pool, parents need to make sure that children adequately know how to swim, will be supervised 100 percent of the time they are in the water, do not run around the pool and that they have a buddy in the water with them. A wonderful safety option to consider when planning a pool party or get together is to hire a lifeguard. This ensures the safety of all attending and participating. Hiring for an outside party can bring peace of mind to event organizers and guests alike! Additionally, be sure to keep an eye on the sky while splish-splashing around the pool, as our weather changes at the drop of a hat. It is extremely dangerous to be in a pool if/when those afternoon thunderstorms pop up! If you are on a lake or enjoying the outdoors and a storm starts, seek shelter indoors, away from bodies of water.

If you get to spend days out on the lake, many of the same precautions should be taken, whether swimming near the shore or out on a boat. Craig Maynard, with Lewisville’s Slalom Shop Boats and Yachts, asserts that a personal floatation device (PFD) or life jacket is one of the most important things to have on a boat. He advises, “It is a smart idea for those who are not great swimmers to wear a PFD when in, around or out on the water. The Coast Guard regulates that every person on a water craft must have a PFD readily available, and any person under the age of 13 must wear a PFD at all times when on a watercraft.”

Mr. Maynard is a veteran boater and lake-goer, and his 17-month-old son, Rocker, who only weighs 24 pounds, always wears an infant–sized life vest. If you are unsure of how to determine what size you or your child would need, PFDs accommodate people of all ages and sizes. Infant vests are for children who weigh less than 30 pounds. Generally, a child’s vest is for kids who weigh between 30 and 50 pounds. A youth vest serves those from 50 to 90 pounds and an adult vest is for those who weigh more than 90 pounds. Mr. Maynard also recommends that, before going out on the lake, parents work to teach their kids to be calm in the water, as it will help them float safely with a PFD. Emergencies happen when we least expect them, so preparedness and training is key!

Whether you are spending the weekend at a softball tournament under the blazing sun, pool partying with family friends, working on your summertime tan or headed out to fish on the lake, your safety is critical. Stay cool, be safe and go have fun, knowing you have the tools to avoid any summer accidents!

More summer safety tips, rules and advice can be found at redcross.org. For more information about hiring a lifeguard for a private party or event, consider visiting sunsationalswimschool.com.

Allie Spletter
Allie Spletter is a wannabe foodie and lover of all things pink and crafty.