While summer family vacations should be a time of joy, there are some potential hazards in the great outdoors to avoid on both land and water. Even a painful sunburn, mosquito bites or a case of poison oak can prove to be upsetting to a family member on a one-day picnic or longer camper outing.
To help better prepare for your next outdoor vacation, here are 10 tips for getting through the upcoming summer months with maximum safety:
· Teach your youngsters to swim at an early age. If they cannot swim, have them wear life preservers. Where there are marked buoys or warming floats in lakes, rivers or bays, stay within the restricted area so no one can get tangled with the propeller of a speedboat. Don’t clown around in shallow water or where there’s a rocky bottom. That includes diving.
Avoid taking a series of deep breaths so you can swim a longer distance under water than friends. It may interfere with normal breathing which could cause the loss of consciousness and drowning. And never swim while intoxicated.
· Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur in very hot weather. Adults over 50 and youngsters shouldn’t overdo physical exercise on extremely hot days. Go easy on the running, tennis, softball or basketball. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids. And never leave a child or a pet in a vehicle with the windows up and doors locked.
· Beware especially if you are fair-skinned. A summer tan may look great, but be prepared by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, adequate sun screen and protection on your lips.
· When picknicking or camping, certain food items such as potato salad and meats must be kept adequately chilled or you may experience food poisoning.
· Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets can be potentially dangerous many people are susceptible to serious allergic reactions from their stings. To help avoid these flying insects don’t wear dark clothing, don’t use perfumed cosmetics and don’t go barefoot. Ask your doctor to recommend an appropriate repellent or vaccine.
· The effects of this trifoliate — a plant with leaves grouped in threes — can be mild or downright discomforting if you get it around your eyes. Be alert for this plant at lower elevations. When hiking in poison oak terrain, wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts to avoid skin contact with its leaves. Merely brushing against a leaf or breathing smoke from burning plants may cause irritation in the form of itching red skin and blisters. If that occurs, wash your skin with cool water and mild soap ASAP.
OTHER POISON PLANTS
· Some experts believe plant life probably is a more common threat to humans than any outdoor source. So refrain from messing with mushrooms. And just because you see birds eating certain berries doesn’t guarantee they are safe for human consumption. Visit your library to discover what “specific” common plants, leaves and bulbs could be deadly.
CHECK THE WEATHER
· Prior to departing on a group outing call the National Weather Service for detailed conditions and a five-day forecast. Ask about the possibilities of lightning, hail and tornadoes.
· Make it 100 percent certain your vehicle is in ideal condition before starting out on a family vacation. Check brakes, tires, headlights, tail lights, oil, fan belt, radiator coolant and air conditioning.
· Many vacationers enjoy saunas, steam baths and hot tubs. I’m the same. Such heat always soothes my aching back. Nevertheless, they can sap your energy. Ask the operator what is proper the maximum time for exposure.
Walter Roessing is a travel writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.