Stay safe and healthy this summer

As you hit up the great outdoors, keep in mind five important summer safety topics
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Dr. Davis Liu of Kaiser Permanente in Roseville knows all about healthy and safe living. After all, he authored a book on wellness. But he also recently experienced firsthand what can happen when we let up our guard and succumb to summertime relaxation. During a family vacation in San Diego, as his 5-year-old daughter swam in a pool, another child began bobbing up and down. He was drowning. “Kids, when they are drowning, don’t make a sound,” Liu said. The child didn’t thrash around or scream. His dad talked to his buddies and drank beer, unaware of what was happening. Thankfully, another person quickly helped the boy to safety. “That was a real wake-up call,” Liu said. “Be attentive. Engage with your kids. Turn off your Blackberry. Turn off your cell phones.” Water safety, Liu said, is one of the most important things to practice during summer, as the weather gets hot and people turn to swimming pools, lakes and rivers for refreshment. With Fourth of July weekend here — and 100-degree weather in the forecast — you might find yourself in a pool or enjoying a barbecue in the sweltering heat. As you hit up the great outdoors, keep in mind these five important summer-safety topics: Sunburn Wear hats and opaque long-sleeved shirts and pants while outdoors. Use sunglasses with ultraviolet protection. Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, and reapply every 3 to 4 hours or immediately after swimming or exercising. Apply 30 minutes before going into the sun. “It takes some time for the topical protection to be absorbed into the skin,” Liu said. Liu wears sunscreen on a daily basis — and makes his two young children do the same. Older folks and kids are especially vulnerable to heat and sun exposure. Doctors find that premature wrinkling and skin-related cancers often occur from exposure during childhood. Exercise Drink water before, during and after exertion. Avoid exercising in the middle of the day. “Keeping hydrated is critically important,” Liu said. If you’re playing sports, hydrate with water and sports drinks, such as Gatorade, to regain lost electrolytes. Take frequent breaks if the temperature is above 80 degrees and avoid exercising if the temperature is in the 90s or humid. Call 911 immediately if you stop sweating or have other signs of heatstroke, such as a fast heart rate, dizziness or confusion, high body temperature or extreme lethargy. Insect bites and stings Wear clothing that covers the skin and, when needed, apply insect repellant containing DEET to clothing, shoes and exposed skin. For children, use products with no more than 10 percent DEET and do not apply to hands. In cases of bites or stings, remove the stinger (if applicable) and use ice to reduce pain, itching and swelling. For ticks, use tweezers and pull straight away from the skin to remove. Wash the area and apply an antiseptic. If a rash, fever, headache or fatigue develops, call your doctor. Water safety Drowning is the leading cause of death and injury for children under 5 years old in California. Never leave a child unattended near a pool or other body of water, even if the child knows how to swim. Make sure pool gates close and latch properly. Adults and children should always wear a life jacket when in a boat or canoe on water. “It’s not macho to not wear a life jacket,” Liu said. Poison oak Avoid poison oak. The leaves grow in clusters of three and are green or red in the spring and summer. If you come into contact, flush exposed areas with cold water for 20 minutes. Wash everything exposed — even your dog. If a rash develops, use a topical steroid cream for 10 to 14 days. Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that all of us have, as Liu says, “a great, safe summer.” Sena Christian can be reached at ---------- For more information about seasonal tips and advice for staying healthy all year long, go to Kaiser Permanente’s free online Health Encyclopedia at