Safety Guide for Summer 2022: Sun, Snakes, Pools, Lakes and Road Trips

ACROSS AMERICA – You might not think it because it’s so much fun, but summer is one of the most dangerous times of the year.

Sing along and remember the wise words of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in “Blinded By the Light,” a quintessential tale of youthful invincibility (what better time to revel in it than summer?) and have fun -you :

“Mom always told me not to look the sun in the eye. But mom, that’s where the fun is.”

We are your mom.

And the sun isn’t necessarily where the fun is, at least if you don’t protect your eyes and skin from it. Anyone can get skin cancer, mainly caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds.

  • Don’t forget sunglasses – this also includes children, but don’t put them in sunglasses bought in the toy aisle that don’t offer protection. The FDA recommends glasses with a UV400 rating or lenses that provide 100% UV protection. Keep in mind that dark lenses and UV protection are not synonymous. Also consider large wraparound frames.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat for extra eye protection.

Drive where the fun is

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, more road accidents and fatalities occur during the summer months. That makes July 4 the deadliest day on the nation’s highways.

What to do:

  • Don’t drink and drive. From 2016 to 2020, some 1,390 drivers were killed in vehicle crashes during the July 4 holiday period — and 41% of the drivers killed were drunk, according to NHTSA.
  • Plan ahead for a safe ride home with a sober driver, even if you’ve only had one drink. A sober driver is one who has had nothing to drink, not the one who has drunk the least.
  • If you are having a party, make sure the designated drivers have enough non-alcoholic beverages. Don’t let your friends drive drunk. Take their keys and get them home safely or put them up for the night.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, pull over and call 911.

When the fun is in the water

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More children aged 1 to 4 die from drowning than from any other cause except birth defects; and for children aged 1 to 14, it is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death behind road traffic accidents.

It’s not just the kids, though. Each year, 3,960 people die in accidental drownings, including boating-related drownings, an average of 11 per day. 8,080 people a year — or 22 a day — survive drowning, according to the CDC.

What to do:

  • Know what drowning looks like and what it doesn’t. It’s not at all like the dramatic scenarios portrayed on TV and in movies. The actual drowning happens quietly, with no flailing arms or frantic calls for help. People just can’t stop drowning long enough to take a breath of air and call for help. The human body is not built that way.
  • Make sure doors to private pools are secure and cannot be accessed or unlocked by children.
  • Make sure children are supervised at all times – and don’t stare at cell phones while they’re in the pool or at the beach.
  • Enroll your kids in swimming lessons (and, with a shortage of national lifeguards, encourage advanced swimmers to get certified).
  • Everyone in the boat wears a life jacket – without exception.
  • Do not drink while in the water. According to the CDC, 70% of all deaths associated with boating recreation involve alcohol, including 1 in 5 while boating.

Snakes are also where the fun is

If you’re swimming in a lake, hiking in the woods, or just working in your garden, you can count on a snake crawling nearby. About 8,000 people are bitten by snakes each year, according to the CDC. Most snakes are harmless, but even these bites can cause infection or an allergic reaction.

You should know the 10 deadliest snakes in North America:

  • The cottonmouth, which likes to hide in water throughout the southeast and on the coastal plains north of Virginia.
  • The timber rattlesnake, found from eastern Kansas, Texas, Iowa, and central Wisconsin south to Georgia, the Carolinas, West Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New England.
  • The black diamond rattlesnake, widely distributed in the western half of North America, from British Columbia to northern Mexico.
  • The Copperhead, found in the eastern and central United States.
  • The eastern diamondback rattlesnake (the largest venomous snake in North America), found in the pine forests of Florida, the coastal plains of North Carolina and southern Mississippi east to eastern Louisiana.
  • The Mojave Rattlesnake (the most venomous rattlesnake in the world), found in the desert southwest.

What to do:

  • Before venturing into the woods or another place where snakes might be found, make sure you have a plan on how to get emergency medical help – a good idea either way. And make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit.
  • While you wait for medical help, lay or sit the person down, positioning them so that the bite is below the level of the heart. wash the wound with warm soapy water; and cover the bite with a clean, dry bandage from your first aid kit.

Enjoy the summer — because “Mom, that’s where the fun is.”


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Susan W. Lloyd