By DEVIN HUNTLEY
Many of us in Western Montana have spent the last several weeks watching a devastating spring unfold across much of our nation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been impacted by Mother Nature, both at home and abroad.
While Mother Nature is dominating the news with wildfires and floods and tornadoes, summer can be a dangerous season for a multitude of “man-made” reasons. Following are a few summer safety tips we can use to help protect ourselves and our families from some very common summer injuries.
Home Fire Safety – If you didn’t check your smoke detectors on New Years Day, do it today. Right now, seriously. Stop reading this article, stand-up and go replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. Having multiple functioning smoke detectors throughout your home is a simple and highly effective means of protecting your family and your home. A few batteries and 10 minutes of time is a meaningful investment. Also, talk to your family about a meeting place should you need to evacuate your home in a hurry. It is vitally important for emergency responders to know whether or not everyone has made it out of a home or not.
Water Safety – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), on average 10 people drown per day in the United States. Of those nearly 4,000 drownings, one in five is a child age 14 or younger. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for that same age group. Remember, drownings also occur indoors in things like bathtubs and buckets, not just rivers and pools.
According to the CDC, the best ways to prevent a tragic drowning include: make a point of ensuring you and your family learn to swim, closely supervising (undistracted supervision) young children, use the buddy system when possible, do not mix alcohol and swimming/boating, learn CPR, do not use air filled toys (they pop) in place of life jackets.
Also, never swim in flooding rivers as they contain horrific unseen currents, dangerous debris and hidden hazards. (OK, that last one was mine, not from the CDC, but having walked along the Clark Fork this morning I was literally taken aback by the utter ferociousness of the river right now.)
Ladder Safety – Did you know that nearly 150,000 Emergency Room visits per year result from falls from ladders? That’s over 400 per day! I’ve been there, twice. There is a lot of literature about ladder safety, but the best advice is written right on the ladder. Follow the manufacture’s warnings. If your ladder is old or you can’t find the warning, take 3 minutes to read the warning next time you walk by a ladder at the hardware store. Remember, if you are on a ladder and it feels unsafe… it is.
Preventing Sunburn – This time of year, especially because of the long winter and wet spring that we’ve had in the Pacific Northwest, most of us are craving the opportunity to don a pair of shorts and a tank top and allow our pasty white skin to soak up the sun.
Most of the “sun gods” and “sun goddesses” I know that are now in their 40’s and 50’s deeply regret their sun-worshipping days as deep tanning and/or sunburns can lead to premature aging and increased risks of skin cancer. Besides a nice tan acquired over time looks better and lasts longer than an “immersion” tan that usually results in painful sunburned shoulders and a blistered nose.
This summer make sun block (SPF 15 minimum with UVA and UVB) a morning ritual. A good pair of sunglasses not only looks good, but helps you to see and prevent long term damage to your eyes. A good loose fitting long sleeve shirt both protects you from the sun and keeps you cool. Finally, as many of my “hair challenged” friends can attest, while a baseball cap might protect the top of your head, the ears and back of the neck are often neglected, resulting in the most common and most painful sunburns.
Good bye winter — and hello summer! Have fun, be safe and may each of you find a few moments this summer to reflect upon how lucky we are to call Western Montana our home!
Devin Huntley is the Vice President of Operations at Community Medical Center.
Community Medical Center
2827 Fort Missoula Road
waterslide photo by havenholidays