Summer is finally here, and many of us take advantage of the warm sun and lighter school schedule to spend some time in the outdoors! However, no matter where you go or how you enjoy our wonderful waterways, pools and outdoor venues, there are some safety tips that you need to know to enjoy the summer weather and have fun safely!
First, no matter who you ask or where you search on the internet, there are three constants in water safety:
1. Only swim in designated areas that are supervised by lifeguards. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, take care around natural bodies of water, and watch young children closely.
2. Always swim with a buddy. It doesn’t matter how great a swimmer you are. It doesn’t matter where you are going to swim. There are absolutely no exceptions. Lives are lost every year because someone decided to take a quick swim with no one around, and then, suddenly, inexplicably, they are gone. Don’t do it! Have a buddy or don’t swim!
3. If you go out in a boat, wear a life jacket! Wearing a life jacket may seem uncool, uncomfortable or even unnecessary, but it’s not. If an accident occurs, you won’t have time to pull on and fasten a life preserver properly. You may not even have time to get them out of the storage bin! You may find yourself in the water without flotation support, and if you are knocked unconscious, it could cost you your life. Don’t risk your life because you are making a fashion statement! Wear a life jacket!
In addition, many of you will take advantage of this great weather to grab a paddle board, kayak or canoe and take a nice outing on the river. Please remember that it really is a river, and although it may look like a lake, it actually flows. It has a current, and that current can be surprisingly strong and hard to manage. Last year, at least two river rescues occurred because UTC students underestimated the strength of that current. It is no joke! Tired muscles can let you down, and becoming stranded on the side of the river with no way to get out of the water, can be scary. Plan your water excursion carefully, and you won’t find yourself in a life-threatening situation.
Another summer concern is heat and sun and how your body reacts to it! In fact, summer temperatures can lead to serious health issues, especially when the heat index spikes into three digits. Extreme heat and humidity can affect your body’s ability to cool itself. If this happens, you may experience medical issues that can range from heat cramps to a life-threatening condition called heat stroke. It is important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses. This list from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives you the warning signs and symptoms of heat illness and important recommendations on how to treat them.
Sunscreen really is important! Use it! Reapply it often! Don’t forget to carry some with you while you are out on the water! Your skin will thank you, and surviving today’s excursion without a sunburn, will enable you to have another fun time in the sun tomorrow! For more about sun screen and sun safety, read the American Academy of Dermatology’s Sunscreen FAQ’s.
Just remember: Taking a few precautions today can keep you healthy and able to spend a safe and enjoyable summer day tomorrow and the day after! Summer fun, here we come!