Gearing up for the summer can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.
Just some of the activities we get ready for are swimming, boating, bicycling, skateboarding, and inline skating.
We stock up on all the clothes for swimming and other sports, as well as the bats, gloves, balls, and other sports equipment. But remember, just because the cooler is packed does not mean you are ready to go.
We also need to prepare for summer safety as well. The key to having a fun summer is having a safe summer, and prevention of illness and injuries are the main ways to get that accomplished.
Before getting involved in any water-related activities, it is extremely important to learn how to swim. Also important things to keep in mind are knowing your limits, using Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), and following all the laws and rules which go with boating and swimming. Inflatable pool toys and assisted-swimming devices are not life-saving devices; only PFDs are.
A very important rule, which is also law for some activities, is that water and alcohol do not mix. Also, never dive into water that you either know is shallow or that you do not know to be deep. In fact, it is always a good idea to get in the water feet first. Everyone should always swim with a buddy, and be supervised. There has been a lot of tragedy associated with water sports, a lot of which could have been prevented if safety was considered.
When playing sports, don't forget the helmets and pads. It really doesn't matter how good you look in your new clothes if you get hurt and end up sitting the rest of the summer on the sidelines. Helmets are always a must when riding a bicycle, skateboarding, or inline skating. It is never a good idea to try stunts, no matter how easy or fun it appears. You only get one head and one brain. If you hurt the one you have, you could become permanently injured, or even die.
There are a few general tips which will keep you in play during summer, and out of the emergency room.
Remember to drink plenty of fluids, like water and sports drinks; alcohol and beverages with caffeine do not count. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Don't forget the sunblock. Burns can be painful, and can lead to unwanted long-term effects.
If you are supervising children, don't get distracted; it only takes seconds for children to get into something or a situation they shouldn't be in.
Keep in mind, these are only a few tips to keep you safe for the summer. But, if you follow these tips, you are that much closer to having a fun summer, all summer, and not sitting it out because you got hurt, sick, or worse.
Kenan Mylander is a registered nurse at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.