By Marcus Fernandez
Florida weather makes it possible to enjoy typical summer activities, such as swimming, backyard parties, and boating, throughout the year. However, the activity level increases once the school year ends, and families flock to the beaches or travel to popular vacation spots. More time outdoors or traveling in the car increases the risk of accidents during the summer months. Here are five tips for preventing accidents this summer.
Tip #1: Make water safety a priority
Two-thirds of drowning deaths in Florida occur during the summer when families flock to beaches and swimming pools. Children should never be left unattended when around water. It takes only a moment for a child to drown, even in shallow water. Other precautions to take when swimming or boating this summer include:
- Swim in areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Use the buddy system, and do not swim alone.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol when swimming or boating.
- Do not run or allow children to play near the edge of a swimming pool.
- Avoid diving into the water. Even if the water looks deep enough, rocks or other objects may be beneath the surface and can cause injuries.
Know your swimming ability, and do not exceed it. For example, ocean currents and swift-flowing rivers can be physically challenging even for experienced swimmers and deadly for inexperienced swimmers.
Tip #2: Be mindful of heat and humidity
The heat and humidity on a summer day in Florida can take a toll on your body, so learn to recognize the signs of the three common types of heat-related illnesses:
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
Muscle cramps and moist, flushed skin during outdoor activities may be signs of heat cramps. Stop what you are doing and find someplace to get out of the sun to allow your body to cool and rest. Sports drinks help to replace salt and other nutrients lost through excessive sweating.
A step up in severity from heat cramps is heat exhaustion. Symptoms include:
- Pale and moist skin
- Elevated body temperature
- Nausea or vomiting
- Headache, fatigue, and generalized weakness
If you have symptoms of heat exhaustion, you need to get out of the sun and into a cool place to rest and lower your body temperature. Sports drinks that are cool but not ice cold help lower your body temperature while replacing nutrients lost from excessive sweating. If you do not start to feel better, immediately go to the emergency department of a local hospital, where doctors may intravenously introduce fluids into your body.
Heat stroke is a severe and life-threatening medical condition requiring immediate medical treatment. Signs of heat stroke include:
- Warm and dry skin
- Rapid pulse
- Headache, fatigue, confusion
A person with heat stroke may have seizures or lapse into a coma, so it is essential to call 911 and move them to a cool location while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical personnel.
Tip #3: Properly store food for outdoor consumption
Be mindful of the effect of the extreme summer temperatures when packing food for a poolside or beach barbeque or picnic. Raw or pre-cooked and prepared foods must be packed and stored to keep them at safe temperatures to prevent bacteria from multiplying and making them unsafe to consume.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, raw meat, fish, and poultry should be stored at no warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep coolers closed to avoid warm air getting into them.
Tip #4: Don’t let sunburn spoil your day
There is a reason that Florida is known as the “Sunshine State.” The sunshine that makes it possible to enjoy outdoor activities also poses a danger to your skin.
Exposure to the sun can cause your skin to become leathery and wrinkled over time. It also increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
You can avoid the harmful and painful effects of the sun by taking a few precautions when going outside:
- Use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day because swimming and sweating can remove it.
- Wear long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim to avoid direct exposure.
- Wear sunglasses rated to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
- Use an umbrella or move to a shady location to avoid exposure.
If you get a sunburn, apply a moisturizer containing aloe vera during the healing process, and limit your exposure to the sun to prevent worsening the sunburn.
Tip #5: Don’t let a car accident spoil your summer
Vacations, trips to the beach, and other summertime activities probably mean that you’ll be spending more time in the car, so here are a few ways to reduce the risk of a car accident:
- Get your car serviced to ensure that brakes, steering, and other essential systems operate properly.
- Make sure that everyone in the car has their seatbelt properly fastened.
- Do not drive after consuming drugs or alcohol. Remember, some prescription and over-the-counter medications may cause drowsiness or have other side effects that can impair your driving ability.
- Avoid texting, eating, conversations with passengers, and other types of behavior that may distract you from the task of driving.
- Obey traffic laws and avoid speeding or aggressive driving.
Give yourself sufficient time to get to your planned destination without rushing.
Talk to a personal injury attorney
Accidents and injuries can happen during summer months despite your best efforts to avoid them. When you or a family member suffer injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to recover compensation. Contact a Tampa personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Kinney, Fernandez, & Boire for a free consultation.