By Karen Gorby
President and CNO, Angel Medical Center
Summer is synonymous with fun. Between opportunities for outdoor sports, the Fourth of July and vacations, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy friends and some hard-won leisure time. Summer and the sun that comes with it have safety concerns, too. Since no one wants to spend a sunny day in the Emergency Room, these tips can help everyone have a safer summer.
The sun is a part of summer most everyone loves. Too much sun, however, can lead to sunburn, which significantly raises your risk for the most-commonly diagnosed type of cancer: skin cancer. The most important things you can do to lower your risk of too much sun are using a high quality, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, avoiding the sun between the hours of 10am and 4pm, and covering up as much as possible when at the beach or pool by using wide-brimmed hats, cover-ups, and sitting under a canopy or beach umbrella.
Outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, and biking also pose safety risks. When swimming in a pool or at the beach, do so only with a lifeguard present, ensure that children always ask permission to go in the water, and be ready to call 911 if there is an emergency. We commonly think that if a person is drowning, they will kick and scream, but often water distress can be silent, which is why all swimmers should be monitored closely.
The most important thing for cyclists to do is to wear a helmet, follow traffic laws, and be mindful of parked cars whose doors could open suddenly. Hiking is very popular in our mountainous area, and hikers should always have a buddy or a group, wear proper footwear to avoid discomfort or injury, and carry a map. Every outdoor enthusiast should stay well-hydrated with water or an electrolyte replacement drink, and drink before feeling thirsty.
Picnics and barbeques pose potential safety challenges, too. Always monitor a grill’s flame – whether charcoal or gas. If a minor burn occurs, apply an antibiotic ointment, and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Though ants are usually associated with picnics, it’s mosquitos that can be real nuisances, so apply an insect repellant with the ingredient DEET, and be sure to check for ticks once you’re back home.
The Fourth of July’s fireworks and sparklers are fun and exciting, but they are also to blame for thousands of serious injuries every year. When lighting fireworks, do so in an open area, always wear safety glasses, move away immediately after lighting, and light only one at a time. If a firework seems defective, throw it out rather than trying to use it. It’s also a good idea to keep a bucket of water on hand. Sparklers aren’t harmless either – kids’ clothing can catch on fire, so supervise children using them at all times.
Summer seems to fly by – enjoy yours to the fullest by keeping safety front and center!
Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE, is the President/Chief Nursing Officer of Angel Medical Center. Gorby is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). For nearly three decades, she has served hospitals and health systems in Ohio before assuming her role at Angel Medical Center. Gorby received her MSN from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, and her MBA from Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio.