Summer is officially here and many of us are spending more and more time outside as the weather warms up. Keep in mind that there are a number of safety concerns you should be aware of while in the sun, whether you’re lounging or working. Some of you may believe these tips are no-brainers, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and it won’t hurt to brush up on a few. Follow these guidelines and best practices in order to keep yourself and others unharmed.
Mowing the grass
This chore is performed on a regular basis during the summer months. Not only does it keep your lawn healthy, it’s also aesthetically pleasing – which your neighbors certainly appreciate. But this task can be extremely dangerous if not done the proper way. Over 200,000 people are injured every year due to lawn mower-related accidents. Be sure to get to know the machine you’re using, the controls on a mower can vary depending on the type or brand you’re using. Before beginning the cut, clear the yard of any debris – rocks, toys, tools, etc. Protective equipment should always be worn while mowing the grass. This includes sturdy, closed-toed shoes, appropriate eyewear or safety goggles, long pants, and ear protection. All of these will protect you from the sharp blades and constant loud noise of the mower, along with any flying debris you may have missed. Never leave the mower on while unattended and keep up regular maintenance on the equipment so it stays in tip-top shape.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 155 people died in 2012 as a result of extreme heat conditions. Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when you are exposed to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity and strenuous activities. Sweating causes dehydration and overheating of the body. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include pale and moist skin, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, and weakness. Heat stroke is a more dangerous life-threatening condition and symptoms include confusion or hallucinations, flushed skin, hyperventilation, and a bodily temperature of 105 degrees or higher. During heat stroke, your internal cooling system, controlled by the brain, ceases to work. This rise in temperature and lack of internal cooling can cause damage to your organs, including the brain. It’s essential to avoid strenuous activity while it’s extremely hot and humid, and also stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Along the same lines, never leave a child or a pet in the car on a hot day, no matter how quick you think you can run your errand. On an 80-degree day, a car can warm up to 110 degrees in just 10 minutes. According to kidsandcars.org, 49 kids were killed due to heat stroke in 2010. A pet or a child may become overheated in just a matter of minutes.
Look out for underground utility wires
Gardening, planting trees, and other lawn care activities usually require digging. But electrical wires and circuits are usually placed underground to protect the lines from damaging weather elements. While national codes dictate how deep these lines should be buried, mistakes are sometimes made and natural erosion could cause the lines to rise. Even some low voltage circuits could be as shallow as 18 inches. To avoid potential shock hazards, many organizations map and record locations of all underground lines, so keep a look out for those signs. If you’re unsure, check with your local utility company before digging too deep.
Wear sunscreen and bug spray
The summer sun emits the strongest UV rays during the hours of 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Apply sunscreen approximately 15 minutes before heading outside so it has time to settle and wear SPF 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen even on cloudy days because those UV rays can still break through. Not only are mosquitoes and ticks a nuisance, they also carry dangerous germs and diseases such as West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease, so be sure to use bug repellant to deter these pests. After being outside for an extended period of time, especially in a wooded area, check yourself, others, and even your pets for ticks.
Playing in the water is one of the most refreshing summer activities, but it can also be very hazardous. Young children should always be supervised near the water, whether it’s by you or a certified lifeguard. Make sure you or someone else is close enough to the pool to be able to reach a child within a few seconds in case something happens. Gates surrounding a pool should always be closed and locked to prevent any wanderers from accidentally falling in. If you have a baby pool in the backyard, don’t forget to empty it when the children are done playing. Youngsters can drown in only a few inches of water. Pay attention to safety rules posted around the pool, which may include no running on the deck, no diving into shallow water, avoid filters, don’t drink from glass bottles on the pool deck, and be aware of where the first aid kit is kept.
Following all of these tips and guidelines will ensure that you have a safe and happy summer. It only takes one accident to spoil a great season.