In light of a couple of scary days this week, involving Emergency Room trips and visits from the Fire Department, I’ve got summer safety on my mind. The dangers in Manitoba during the winter have a lot to do with ice, snow, and blizzards. Things that can easily be avoided from the warmth of a cozy home. In the summer, there are different things that we need to watch out for when we can no longer bear to stay inside. It is a season that can be enjoyed to it’s fullest, so long as you keep in mind a few mild warnings about summer safety.
With my position coordinating Fruit Share, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time outside. It’s been wonderful to be out in the sunshine, visiting people’s gardens and picking rhubarb. Not to say there haven’t been a couple of hints that there are things I should be paying attention to. So far I have only suffered bug bites and sunburn, but recent warnings have me thinking I should arm myself a little more carefully in the future. Planning to spend the weekend outdoors? Consider making sure yourself and family are prepared for whatever Manitoba might be bringing.
Perhaps you’re planning on going on a picnic or for a barbecue in the park. First, what are you wearing? With lots of sun you’re probably dying for shorts and a tank top to keep cool and get some sun. However, you might find that those may not be your best bet. Make sure when deciding what to wear that you consider putting on clothes in light colors. Not only do they keep you cooler, but should you be anywhere near tall grass, they will help you spot any crawly tics (a serious pest this time of year). Going for a hike? Keep tics out of your shoes and from crawling up your legs by tucking your pants into your socks. Although exposing your skin may feel cooler, it ups your potential for skin damage and overheating. Lightweight cotton and linen are good choices when you want to cover up and keep cool. And don’t forget about your head! Protecting yourself with a wide-brimmed hat will keep those harsh rays from hitting your face and eyes directly and keep that nose burn-free.
Of course, underneath those clothes, you need to make sure you have a solid layer of sunscreen on if you’re planning to spend the day outside. Dermatologists recommend using at least a full ounce of sunscreen for your full body, applying it 15-30 minutes before heading outside. Make sure that your sunscreen choice is at least SPF 30 and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Dressing properly and covering your skin will also help protect you from any heat-related illnesses. So will drinking water. Lots of water! It’s recommended that in hot temperatures adults should have something to drink at least every half an hour. Waiting until you feel thirsty could be too late. With too much sun and too little hydration, heat exhaustion can set in. Symptoms of this can include feeling very thirsty, fatigued, or muscle cramping. Should that go unchecked, you could be headed towards heatstroke, a serious condition. Someone suffering from heatstroke may experience dizziness, headache, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. Watch for flushed, hot skin without sweating, which indicates dehydration. During heatstroke, the body can reach up to 104 degrees, after which there is serious risk of damage to organs such as your liver, kidneys, and brain. Keep yourself cool by dressing appropriately and keeping lots of fresh, cold water on hand.
Once you’ve sun-screened and suited up, you may also want to consider what kind of pests might be looking to bug you. The aforementioned tics can be a real pain, but no other is quite as annoying as the mosquito. Nothing can turn an outing from fun to frustrating quicker than the whining beasts looking to feast on your blood. Once you have applied your sunscreen you may then choose to layer on a bit of repellent. When choosing a bug spray for your or your family, avoid products with DEET included in the ingredients, as it can be very toxic. This type of spray should never be used on infants and should be used very sparingly if at all on children. Be careful with sugary drinks and foods to avoid attracting wasps who are eager to share your sweets. When you get home from an outing, make sure to do a throughout check for any bugs you might have brought home with you. Make sure to check armpits, backs of knees, and hairlines as bugs like tics enjoy moist, warm areas. If you’re headed outdoors for a hike, make sure to keep an eye out for poison ivy. The oil on the leaves is what causes the allergic reaction, resulting in a rash that can be difficult to get rid of. Poison Ivy is not contagious, but it can be spread through indirect contact. Be sure to give your dogs a bath when you get home if they’ve been running through the woods as oils can linger on their coats.
The summer provides lots of fun opportunities to get out with the family for group activities. Going for a bike ride? Make sure everyone has helmets- it’s now compulsory for bikers under the age of 18 to wear helmets in Manitoba! Caught without? You can be ticketed under the highway traffic act! 300,000 children a year in North America make trips to the Emergency Room with bike related injuries, keep your kids safe by traveling with them and making sure they’re protected. Going swimming? Make sure to never leave children unattended near a pool or body of water. Drownings and injuries are all too common and can be easily prevented with safety precautions put in place. Time for a picnic? Be careful bringing food with ingredients like mayonnaise, eggs, milk, meat, fish, and poultry. These types of dishes should only be kept room temperature for a maximum of two hours and in the sun, less than one. Watch carefully over little ones when roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, a flaming treat can be very dangerous. When putting out campfires, make sure to use water first, as fires that are put out with sand alone can remain very hot for up to eight hours after extinguishing. Most children hurt around campfires are burned by hot ashes or embers the morning after a fire.
The summer is a time to enjoy the freedom of being able to experience the outdoors. It is also the time of year where the most injuries, for both adults and children, are reported. Plan carefully so that your can rest assured that in case of emergency, you’re prepared. Watch the weather, as conditions can change very quickly in Manitoba, and know where a safe place to go to is at all times. With a little bit of preparation, you can have a summer to remember for all the right reasons. Wishing everyone a happy, and safe, summer from Fruit Share! Make sure to visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @bdnfruitshare