Summer Safety

Ever heard of Wave Board Basketball? Neither had I until I caught my kids playing it in our driveway on a warm evening a few weeks ago. Like any responsible parent, I try to limit my use of profanity unless absolutely unavoidable but sometimes I find the word “bleeping” comes in handy in a pinch. Such as, in the case of the Wave Board Basketball incident, “Where are your BLEEPING helmets?!!!” Just saying. . .  Which brings me to the topic of this SEPA Red Cross blog. Summer Safety.

Summertime . . .and the livin’ is easy . . . and slightly more risky. . .which sadly doesn’t really fit with that lovely tune but is true nonetheless. Enjoyment of outdoor, athletic pursuits is what summer is about for most of us and our beautiful city, Philadelphia, offers so many opportunities for warm weather recreation. Fairmount Park makes us rich in bike trails and hiking paths. Smaller city parks offer basketball hoops, playgrounds, skateboard parks and soccer fields. Our own neighborhood streets and driveways host street hockey, jump-roping and, apparently, Wave Board Basketball. Everybody get out and run around! It’s fun. Just please remember to take a few precautions so we all stay safe and healthy.

Wear your helmets. It’s that simple. Be helmeted on your bicycles, wave boards, skateboards or any other apparatus that rolls you around at high speeds. Used children’s helmets are easy to find at garage sales. As with the oxygen mask on the airplane, helmet your children first before helmeting yourself. Our heads are incredibly fragile and brain injury can be absolutely devastating.

Respect the temperature and humidity. Here, in the Philadelphia area, we have several summer days where temperatures reach the high 90’s. That’s hot and attention must be paid. Small children, the elderly and the chronically ill are most susceptible to extreme heat but everyone should be aware of the risk of heat stroke. If you feel dizzy or nauseous while being active on a hot sunny day, find some shade, a cool drink and rest for a while. If you start feeling cold and goosebumpy even though the beach or pavement is like a frying pan under your feet, find a cooler venue to recuperate. Plan your activities for the early morning or evening when the sun is less intense. Watch out for your friends and keep your elderly neighbors in mind. The heat is great when you climb out of the pool but it can be very harmful.

Use sunscreen. That’s a no-brainer in families like mine who are so pale we’re almost translucent, but the truth is everyone should be using sunscreen. The sun is very powerful and it’s beaming all kinds of ultra-violet light at us, especially at the beach, on the water or any place where shade trees are scarce. Even if your skin does not burn, it’s still on the receiving end of that radiation infusion. Protect yourself. Protect your children. Don’t forget to reapply every couple hours if you are swimming or sweating!

Drink water, but not too much. It’s very important to stay hydrated. We are humans, not lizards and when we start to shrivel from dehydration, we become quite ill. By the same token, we can hurt ourselves by drinking too much so don’t overdo it. Water is an essential accompaniment to all summer activities. My family owns about 20 different water bottles that fit awkwardly in a cabinet over the kitchen sink and sometimes fall on my head when I open the door too forcefully. My children love this.

Be safe in the water. Make sure kids learn to swim. It’s an essential life skill. The Red Cross offers lots of opportunities for swim instruction in our region. Wear life jackets on boats. Made sure the people you care about are safe in and around the water.

Summer is a fantastic time of year. The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania hopes you enjoy it safely!

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