Meigs Health Matters: Summer safety and severe weather

Summer safety and severe weather

By Shannon E. Smith - Special to Times-Sentinel

The Meigs County Health Department would like to offer you some safety tips on how to stay safe this summer and some recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health and the (CDC) Centers for Disease Control.

Summer Safety Although summer should be a time of fun, outdoor activity and exploration, unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for injury. Summer is often referred to as “trauma season” by health care professionals working in emergency departments. Across the country, children 14 years and younger will be rushed to emergency rooms for treatment of injuries nearly 3 million times from May through August.

Injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for children and youth. Injury rates are highest during the summer months for children and teenagers because it is the time when they are exposed to more injury risks.

Based on a 2007 report from Safe Kids USA, Ohio ranks 27 out of 51 with an unintentional injury death rate during May through August of 3.5 per 100,000 children younger than 14.

The majority of unintentional injury deaths from May through August involve drowning, biking, falls, motor vehicle occupant activities and pedestrian incidents.

We all want to help our children live to their full potential and keep them safe and secure. Parents can play a key role in protecting the children they love from injury. Get involved with your child and know where they are going and what they are doing outside. This will allow you to take the necessary steps to help protect them.

Follow these simple tips with your family to protect your children from the top summertime risks:

* Actively supervise your child when engaging in summertime activities, such as swimming and playing on playground equipment or in backyards.

* Use the right safety gear for your child’s activities, such as a:

* Helmet for wheeled sports and sporting activities.

* Car seat, booster seat or seat belt as appropriate when traveling.

* Life jacket for open water swimming and boating.

* Role model proper safety behavior. Children are more likely to follow safety rules when they see their parents doing so.

* Surround your pool or spa with a four-sided fence to keep children safe. The fence should be at least four feet high with self-closing, self-latching gates. An inflatable pool needs to be surrounded by a fence, just like any other pool, and parents need to empty these pools when not in use.

* Make sure your home playground is safe. Keep 12 inches safe surfacing, such as mulch, shredded rubber or fine sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment. Remove hood and neck drawstrings from your child’s clothing.

* Check for children around vehicles. Walk all the way around a parked vehicle to check for children before entering a car and starting the motor. Don’t let children play in driveways, streets, parking lots or unfenced yards adjacent to busy streets.

* Keep children away from the grill area while preheating and cooking, and while the grill is cooling.

* Remove potential poisons from your yard, including poisonous plants, pesticides and pool chemicals.

* Apply sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher to your child’s exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before going out and reapply frequently.

* Make sure your child drinks plenty of water. A child who seems tired or achy should rest in the shade or go inside for a while. Get immediate medical help any time a child’s skin is hot to the touch (with or without perspiration), if a child has a seizure, or if they become disoriented in hot weather.

* Remember not to leave pets in your vehicles on hot days

* And make sure your children know the numbers for Emergency Services and the number to reach their caregivers should an emergency occur.

Thunderstorms & lightning

Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:

* Include powerful winds over 50 MPH;

* Create hail; and

* Cause flash flooding and tornadoes.

If you are under a thunderstorm warning, find safe shelter right away

* When thunder roars, go indoors!

* Move from outdoors into a building or car.

* Pay attention to alerts and warnings.

* Unplug appliances.

* Do not use landline phones.

How to stay safe when a thunderstorm threatens

What to do now: Prepare

* Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.

* Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

* Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.

* Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.

* Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.

What to do during: Survive

* When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.

* Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.

* When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.

* If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.

* Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.

If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.

* If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal.

* Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

What to do after: Be Safe

Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.

Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.

Please follow the links below for more information and resources on how to stay prepared and safe this summer.

Summer safety and severe weather

By Shannon E. Smith

Special to Times-Sentinel

Shannon Smith is public health emergency response coordinator for the Meigs County Health Department.

Shannon Smith is public health emergency response coordinator for the Meigs County Health Department.