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Avoid Summer Emergencies

Help protect yourself and your family from accidents this summer by following a few precautions. Just a few extra minutes of care can mean the difference between a carefree summer and a trip to the ER that could derail you for weeks.

  • Respect the power of the sun. Using a SPF of 30 or higher to protect against sunburn is a good start. But heat stroke, the most serious form of heart injury, is a risk for everybody over age 50, young children, and even healthy young athletes. Take frequent breaks from the sun, drink plenty of water, and never leave a young child or pet alone in a car, which can quickly heat to 120 degrees or more.
  • Helmets and safety gear aren’t just for kids.Adults are more likely to fall when biking, riding a scooter, or skateboarding, but less likely to wear appropriate protection. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85% -- so make sure everyone in your family has easy access to one.
  • Beat the bugs by wearing a DEET-based repellent. It will help keep you safe from ticks carrying Lyme disease and mosquitoes that may transmit the West Nile virus.
  • Guard against falls and home mishaps. Summer time home repairs result in thousands of falls and accidents every year. Wear appropriate shoes and clothing to protect against power tool burns and broken toes caused by dropped tools. Anchor ladders securely, and have someone “spotting” you at all times. Tape bulky power cords down to avoid tripping.
  • Enjoy water activities responsibly. Anybody using a motorized watercraft should be wearing a life jacket – or have easy access to one. Never swim alone, and always observe posted warnings. Remember that it’s possible to drown in just a few inches of water, so maintain vigilance at all time.

Of course, no matter what precautions you take, accidents and serious illnesses can occur at any time. When you suspect a medical problem is critical or life-threatening, call 9-1-1 immediately. Any injuries from car accidents, smoke inhalation, near drowning, or poisonous substances require immediate emergency treatment as well. When in doubt, don't wait: call 9-1-1.

For more tips on dealing with emergencies and getting appropriate treatment,

This article first appeared in the July 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.