Friday, June 21 is the official start of summer. The season should be a time of joy, spent hanging out at the beach and barbecuing in the backyard. Too often, however, summer turns tragic when it needn’t. The American Red Cross offers the following guidelines to help you stay safe as the temperature climbs.
During a heat wave
• Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
• Avoid extreme temperature changes.
• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors, because they absorb the sun’s rays.
• Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day, usually in the afternoon, between 2 and 5 p.m.
• Postpone outdoor games and activities.
• Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
• Check on your pets often to ensure that they aren’t suffering in the heat.
Know what to do in an emergency
The American Red Cross first aid app offers emergency-response information in simple, easy-to-follow steps. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the free app gives you instant access to the information you need to handle the most common first aid emergencies. It also features videos, interactive quizzes and straightforward advice.
Learn to swim
The best way to safely enjoy the water is to learn how to swim. Enroll your family in age-appropriate Red Cross water-orientation and learn-to-swim courses. Basic water safety rules are part of these classes. You’ll learn how to tell if a swimmer is in distress or drowning, and how and when to call for emergency help. You’ll also learn how to help someone in trouble in the water while keeping yourself safe.
To find classes for you and your family, contact your local aquatic facility.
Water safety tips
A Red Cross water safety poll released in 2013 showed that nearly half of Americans said they had had an experience in which they were afraid they might drown, yet more than half planned to engage in activities that would put them at risk of drowning over the summer.
Members of the Aquatic Sub-Council, part of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, have developed the Circle of Drowning Prevention and Chain of Drowning Survival protocols to raise awareness of the most important steps swimmers can take to reduce the number of preventable drownings.
The Circle of Drowning Prevention shows the layers of protection that can help prevent potential drownings:
• Pay close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.
• Fence in pools and spas with adequate barriers, including four-sided fencing.
• Learn swimming and water-survival skills.
• Make sure children, inexperienced swimmers and boaters wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, and always swim in areas watched by lifeguards.
The Chain of Drowning Survival illustrates the steps you should take when you spot someone in distress in the water:
• Recognize the signs of a struggling swimmer, and shout for help.
• Rescue and remove the person from the water without putting yourself in danger.
• Call emergency medical services.
• Begin rescue breathing or cardiopulmonary resuscitation if necessary, and use an automated external defibrillator, or AED, if available.
• Transfer care to advanced life support if needed.
For more, visit www.redcross.org.