Summertime safety: Use these tips to help your community avoid emergencies
Let people know how to stay safe in the sun and heat, in the water and on the road
Summer should be a time for fun in the sun. But with high temperatures, high expectations of good times and sometimes lower inhibitions, emergencies can happen. Share these resources with your community members so they can help keep themselves and others safe during summer months.
Heat-related illnesses and deaths can happen during any kind of activity, particularly outdoor activities.
The three primary heat-related illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.
The San Antonio Fire Department shared the following chart that breaks down symptoms of each – and what to do.
Another common summer risk is sunburn – a particularly important topic, as skin cancer is one the most common type of cancer that firefighters develop. Remember to wear sunscreen! The American Cancer Society explains that sunscreen is especially important when there is more daylight. Apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 to all exposed skin.
Read next: The threat is real: How firefighters can protect against skin cancer
Summer is the time for travel, meaning more cars are on the road. Whether you’re going on a road trip or just to the local store to pick up popsicles, watch out for these driving hazards.
Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a problem year-round, and it endangers everyone, including first responders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips:
- Avoid multitasking while driving. Eat, adjust vehicle mirrors, listen to music, send text messages, make phone calls, etc., before or after the drive.
- Use apps and phone settings to prevent distractions, such as phone calls, texts and notifications occurring during drives.
- Ask the driver to focus on driving.
- Reduce the driver’s distractions by helping with tasks such as navigating.
- Talk with their teen or young adult children about driving responsibilities and distracted driving.
- Remind your kid(s) that driving well requires the driver’s full attention.
- Emphasize that calls and texts can wait.
- Set a good example.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers more information on helping your teen drive safely.
It’s also important to follow move-over laws, giving emergency vehicles the right of way to proceed to the incident scene.
A fire truck, police car, or ambulance is coming up behind you with sirens blaring and candles lit! What do you do? Don't panic - Sirens And Lights Means Pull To The Right! pic.twitter.com/3Zd0ekyLzI— Oklahoma City Fire (@OKCFD) July 28, 2022
Roadway accidents: Another tip for safer driving is to pay attention around accidents, and that includes noticing where first responders are and following their directions.
Check out these additional resources from FireRescue1:
- A letter to the American public: Slow down and move over!
- Chief Bashoor tackles a new epidemic: 'D-Drivers' putting first responders at risk
Just like homes and hotels, RVs need smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. The U.S. Fire Administration advises checking them monthly.
An NFPA report states that most fatal RV fires happen in older models, which have fewer and less advanced safety measures. The association recommends that RV users keep up with regular inspections and maintenance. If you are renting, ask about the RV’s maintenance and look at the fire extinguisher and the fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Download this handy guide for RV users, provided by the USFA, and check out the video below.
For many of us, summer is all about swimming and other fun stuff at beaches, lakes and other bodies of water. Whether you are boating, tubing, surfing, swimming laps or just dipping your toes in the ocean, know your risks and how to stay safe. This also means knowing how to prevent drownings and how to respond when they happen.
FireRescue1 offers drowning prevention and response guidelines here: How to respond to a drowning incident
You may be thinking about the weather and water when you plan a day of boating, but it’s important to be prepared for a fire.
Fires that occur on boats present unique response challenges.— U.S. Fire (USFA) (@usfire) July 6, 2022
⛵️Install smoke & carbon monoxide alarms to alert occupants to a fire.
⛵️Have a fire emergency plan & practice it.
⛵️Have the appropriate fire extinguishers & make sure they are accessible. pic.twitter.com/wpNjQar29J
Meeting up for margaritas, serving drinks on a boat, or having beers with barbecue?
Drinking: If you’re in the heat for long stretches, you are at risk of becoming dehydrated, and alcohol raises that risk.
“To counteract the dehydration risk of alcohol, drink 8 to 12 ounces of water for every alcoholic drink,” advises Julia Zumpano, a registered dietitian. “It slows your alcohol intake, keeps you hydrated and can mitigate negative hangover effects.”
If drinking is part of your boating fun, be sure to have a designated sober driver, advises Dr. Dan Vinson, a family medicine physician who specializes in alcohol use.
Just as alcohol can affect judgment and physical coordination while people walk or dance, it affects the ways people move when swimming or playing sports outdoors. To lower your odds of injury, Vinson suggests drinking after the activity is complete.
Barbeque: Bring on the barbecue! But don’t literally burn down the house. The Tacoma Fire Department posted this handy list of safe grilling tips.
Fireworks: Fireworks are most famously in use on and around the Fourth of July.
Did you know that it is illegal to use fireworks on public lands? The National Interagency Fire Center issued this warning along with Smokey Bear.
11 fireworks safety videos, from the serious to the humorous
As fireworks season begins, cities and FDs are sharing safety and fire prevention tips to educate citizens and avoid disasters
Have fun and be safe!
How else can you help your community prevent summertime emergencies? Is there something potentially dangerous in the forecast for your area, such as a drought? And don’t forget all the special events around holidays. Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are, for some, great times for gatherings, but, as you know, those weekends can be busy for first responders. Words of warning ahead of time could help your community.
Remember to have fun – but be safe, too!