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Safe summer fun 

Incorporate safety into your summertime activities 

THE TIME BETWEEN Memorial Day and Labor Day may be peak summer fun, but health care providers have a more sobering name for this time of year: trauma season. Injuries often occur at a higher rate compared with other times of the year. These injuries can be severe, and in some cases, life-altering. During this time, be mindful of sun and water safety, seatbelts and helmets, and more. 

Sun safety 

Warm sunshine is one of the best parts of summertime, but the sun and heat can also lead to serious injuries. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and reapply every two hours. 

Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to prevent heat illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends drinking one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes while in the heat. Drinking water in shorter intervals is more effective than drinking large amounts infrequently. Cars can reach high temperatures in the summer sun. Never leave your child alone in the car, even for a minute. This could lead to overheating and even death. 

Water safety 

Never enter a swimming pool headfirst unless in a designated safe diving area. Be mindful of your limitations and take a break when needed. Children should always be supervised in all pools or bodies of water. When boating or swimming in lakes, everyone should have a life jacket. For children, life jackets should be mandatory at all times. 

Seatbelts and helmets 

One of the safest choices drivers and passengers can make is buckling their seatbelt. Drivers should ensure that all passengers are properly buckled and that kids are in appropriately sized and secured car seats or booster seats. Adults and children should wear helmets while on all wheeled vehicles, including ATVs, motorcycles, bicycles and skateboards. The Mayo Clinic says helmets can reduce serious head injuries by up to 80%. 

Firework safety

Fireworks are fun and beautiful, but they can cause injury. Wear eye protection. Never hold an ignited firework in your hand or allow young children to handle fireworks. Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks or in case of fire. Sparklers may seem safe for kids, but they can still reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees and can quickly ignite clothing.

ANDREW BERNARD, M.D., is division chief of acute care surgery and trauma at UK HealthCare. 

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