Summer Safety Tips: Avoiding Injury and Illness

02.06.2021

Summer is a time for sun, barbeques and outdoor activities; but just like every season, it comes with its own precautions. Not all danger is visible, some, like COVID-19, are invisible hazards, so it’s important to understand how best to avoid them and reduce the risk of injury and illness. Before you head to the beaches, parks, parties, or even your back garden, here are some top tips to help keep you and your family safe during Summer.

1. Fun in the sun

A holiday abroad might not be on the cards for the majority of us this year, so we’ll just have to settle for the English weather – but sometimes this does mean sun! It doesn’t need to be tropical temperatures for the sun to do us harm, so don’t let it catch you out.

It’s not a secret that the sun can do a lot of damage to our skin if we are exposed to too much of it, but many people still don’t take this fact seriously enough. The sun’s heat, light and ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin cancer, eye damage, sunstroke and immune system suppression – in people of any age, any gender and any skin colour.

If you come across a new mole, it could be a sign of melanoma (a type of skin cancer). Read our blog post on the importance of checking your moles for more information on the topic.

The best ways to keep safe in the sun are to:

  • Apply sun cream with a high SPF, and reapply every couple of hours
  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Try to stay indoors when the sun is at its strongest – which is usually between 11am-3pm – or when your shadow is shorter than you.
  • Cover up with light clothing, a hat
  • Use an umbrella to block out the sun and create shade
  • Avoid extreme exercise or exertion, and drink extra water during activity

2. Water safety

On summer days, many of us head to beaches, pools or open water lakes for picnics, swimming and watersports. But whether it be with a big group of friends, your family or just you and your children, it’s important to always be on the ball and wary in and around water.

Drowning is among the leading cause of accidental death in the UK, with around 400 accidents each year – many of these being young children and teenagers. The conditions of water sites change constantly, and people often get put into unwanted circumstances due to uncontrollable situations, such as waves and tides that drag people out to deeper depths.

Always follow The Water Safety Code:

3. Garden parties and barbecues

We all love a barbecue or garden party with our friends and family, but every year they are responsible for numerous counts of serious property damage and injury. It should be a safe and fun experience, but people can become easily distracted or drink a bit too much alcohol, both of which increases the risk of danger significantly.

Follow these simple precautions to ensure you and your loved ones safety:

  • Check your barbecue each time before use to check it is in working order
  • Do not leave the barbecue unattended
  • Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors in open air
  • Make sure the barbecue is set up away from the home, trees and shed
  • Keep children, pets, garden games and drunk individuals away from the cooking area
  • Keep a large bucket of water or sand nearby in case of emergencies
  • Make sure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it, clean it or dispose of it
  • Never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin – they can melt the plastic and cause a fire
  • If you have a gas barbecue, make sure the tap is turned off before changing the cylinder.

4. Stings and bug bites

Spending more time outside in the warmer weather means you are going to come into contact with more bugs. Unfortunately, some bugs do sting or bite, and some of us more than others – but the good news is you can reduce the likelihood of this occurring.

  • Spray yourself and your children with insect repellent – although this doesn’t kill the insects, it reduces ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and other pests from biting.
  • Avoid sitting on the grass or shrubby areas, instead sit on a blanket or chair
  • Do not walk through long grass or plants with bare legs or feet
  • Don’t leave sweet drinks or food exposed outside, as this can attract all sorts of flies, bees and wasps
  • If you do come across a bee or wasp, do not aggravate it. Hitting, whacking and swatting it can make things worse. In fact, when a social wasp feels threatened, they release a distress signal as a pheromone to alert their colony, which can make more wasps appear in defence.
  • Treat bites and stings as soon as they happen. Wash the infected area thoroughly with soap and water, and keep it clean and dry. Do not scratch it – if it itches then use an anti-itch cream and take anti-inflammatory tablets.
  • Seek medical attention if the individual experiences trouble breathing or swelling around the mouth, tongue or face – or if they develop a nasty rash or extreme swelling. A bit of swelling is usually normal and is nothing to worry about.

5. Coronavirus

As much as we wish it wasn’t, coronavirus is still a risk posed when we head out into the world, even on sunny days. We encourage you to go outside, as it is great for your physical and mental health, but it is important to keep in mind how the virus can be transmitted and follow the government’s guidance on how to stay safe.

If you are heading out into public, make sure that you choose a place or time that will be the least crowded, and take measures to ensure you stay safe. Here is a reminder of the tips set by healthcare professionals and recommended by the government:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water – for at least 20 seconds. If you are unable to wash them with soap, then keep a bottle of hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) handy, and then use a sink when next available to you.
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Adhere to social distancing – keep a distance away from other people.
  • Wear a mask or face covering in all shops and in busy areas.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or a bent elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as door knobs, light switches, handrails and countertops.

Read our related blog on how to protect yourself from the coronavirus.

Most importantly, if you or any of your household members begins to show symptoms of the coronavirus, you must all self-isolate for 14 days to make sure you do not pass this on to others. We are offering at home COVID-19 tests, as well as coronavirus antibody tests to see if you have had coronavirus in the past.

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