Staying Cool in the Summer

Staying Cool in the Summer

Summer is a wonderful time of the year.  Kids are out of school, we go on vacations, going swimming, hiking, walking, camping — there are all sorts of wonderful outdoor activates to do with the family.  Along with summer activities comes a few things of which to be mindful — animals, bugs, storms and heat to name a few.  So let’s talk about heat for a few minutes, because it is important to stay cool and hydrated.

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Adding a little lemon helps taste and even provides vitamin C.  Get your children in the habit of drinking plenty of water.
  • Park in the shade and open your windows slightly. Cars in the summer can reach a whopping 120 degrees!  That’s dangerous for both children and pets.
  • If you work outdoors:
    • Stay hydrated and take breaks in cool locations such as indoors or in the shade.
    • Work with a buddy and keep tabs on one another to stay safe.
  • For babies who will be in the sun, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends lightweight clothes, long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats.  It is ok to place a minimal amount of sunscreen in small areas.
  • For kids in the sun:
    • Try to keep them out of the sun during the peak hours of 10AM-4PM.
    • Wear hats and sunglasses and make sure the glasses are rated to block out the UVA and UVB with 97-100% effectiveness.
    • Clothing should be tight weave.
    • Wear sunblock of SPF15 or better and reapply it every 2-3 hours.

Have fun and stay safe this summer!

Tips for Staying Safe in the Water

Tips for Staying Safe in the Water

Swimming and spending time in or on the water is something most of us look forward to in the summer.  It helps us stay cool, gives us a reason to get a tan and is lots of fun!  There are a few things to consider while swimming in order to keep the merriment going.

Do not Swim Alone

It is important to have someone or a lifeguard nearby.  Do not assume one is there. If you are not sure ask, because your life could depend on it.

Stay in Communication

Have a phone nearby.  If something happens that requires professional help (such as medical attention), you will be able to call for help at a time when speed is of utmost importance.

Pay Attention at the Pool

Although toys are fun, they are not always safe at the pool.  They can get in the way and may cause an accident.  Keep electrical appliances away from the pool to avoid shock and/or electrocution.  It’s also best to walk, not run, to avoid slipping and falling on the pool’s wet surfaces.

Know CPR

With swimming comes the chance of someone drowning.  Knowing CPR could save the person’s life.  When CPR is needed, the sooner it is started, the better the chances.

Be Prepared

If a person is an unsure or weak swimmer, wear a life jacket. Take swimming lessons and learn the basic and advanced skills.  Not only will you be able to swim, but you may also develop the ability to help someone who cannot.

Heading Out on the Water? Here is your Pre-Departure Boat Check

Make sure you and your boat are prepared before you leave the dock.

Last month, we provided some safety information for when you go boating.  One safety tip was a pre-launch boat check.  Here are items that you should have on board.

Items to Check

  • Your fuel tank should be full. If that is not possible, you should have enough fuel to return safely and still have some left over.
  • Check the engine oil and coolant levels.
  • Make sure your navigational lights work.
  • Make sure your instrument panel lights work.
  • Check ventilation in any powered vessel, auxiliary-powered sailboats or boats using cooking fuel such as LPG (propane).
  • Check that enclosed areas have a properly-installed and working carbon monoxide detector.
  • Check that bilges are dry and pumps not running excessively. (Spilled oil or waste in bilges should be cleaned up.)
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Check your dock lines for chafe or wear.
  • Leave a “float plan” with at least one person on land so they know where you can be found.

Items that Should be On Board

Here is the “short list.”  Explanations are further down.

  • Basic toolbox with tools appropriate for your boat.
  • Spare parts including fuel filter, light bulbs, head parts, through-hull plugs, etc.
  • Standard first-aid kit
  • Life jackets
  • Horn or other sound producing device
  • All lights (including flashlight and spare batteries) and needed day-shapes
  • Distress Signals
  • Have all required fire extinguishers on board and that they are mounted properly.
  • Have a radio on board to receive weather updates.
  • All needed battery types (and check that they are working)
  • At least one anchor set up and bent-on to your anchor line.
  • 2-3 extra dock lines in case of unusual conditions.
  • At least two fenders on-board for docking or towing if required.
  • Ship’s papers, radio license, fishing permit, etc. on board.
  • Chart(s) for the area(s) you will be in regardless of the level of your local knowledge.
  • Both an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for your boat and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for you. Both beacons should be registered (EPIRB to your boat and PLB to you) at

More Information About Items Above

Life Jackets

  • 1 life jacket per passenger (minimum 2 at all times). Life jackets should be Coast Guard approved.
  • If your vessel is over 16 feet long, you should have a throwable device.
  • Tell all passengers and crew new to the vessel the location of the life jackets and how to use them.

Sound Producing Devices

  • The horn you have on board should be able to sound a four-second blast that can be heard for at least a ½ mile.
  • Make sure to have a spare can of air (or alternate device) if you use a portable air horn.
  • Each life jacket should have a whistle attached.


“Day shapes are mast head signals visually indicating the status of a vessel to other vessels on navigable waters during daylight hours whether making-way, anchored, or aground.” (Wikipedia) If you plan to engage in recreational boating activity that requires a day-shape, make sure that you have it.

Distress Signals

Your flares, day signals and other items used for signaling should be stored in a dry location that is easily accessible.  Be sure the crew and passengers know where they are and how to use them properly.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Coast Guard rules set the number of fire extinguishers you should have on board. Make sure you have the number required and that they are accessible.
  • Check to be sure mounts are secure and functional before departure.
  • Inform passengers and crew of the fire extinguisher(s) location.


  • All interior spaces should be checked. They should be well-ventilated before departure.
  • If you smell fuel, run the blowers for several minutes and check again.
  • If you still smell the odor, turn off the engine and check for the source of the leak.
  • Each enclosed or semi-enclosed area should have a properly-installed carbon monoxide detector.


  • For dual charging systems, make sure the selector switch in the proper position.
  • Make sure the entire vessel has power.
  • Have spares for all your devices on board (handheld radio, flashlight, portable navigational aid, etc.)
  • Make sure rechargeable batteries are charged.


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4 Key Tips to Stay Safe this Summer

Four Key Tips to Stay Safe This Summer

It’s summer! Kids are out of school, vacations happen, the weather is generally warm and enjoyable.  There are some safety challenges that are unique to the summer.  Here are 4 key tips to stay safe this summer.

Be Cool

With the summer comes heat.  Most people know that staying cool is important. However, you might not realize that drinking cold water about every 20 minutes not only keeps you hydrated but helps to reduce heat.   It is also good to avoid alcohol, coffee tea and caffeinated soft drinks which can all cause dehydration.

Fashion for the Sun

Dress for the heat.  We discussed this briefly in “Sun Protection and Sunburns.” Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes including a hat.  Be sure to use broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or greater) and even UV-blocking sunglasses.  The goal is to protect that skin of yours from the UVA and UVB rays.  When you are on a hot job whether it is in the yard, a special project you are working on or even for your employer, it is best to work in a ventilated area with good airflow.  It helps with evaporation of sweat which cools the skin.

Think for your Children

Children love to have fun, and they often do not think about the consequences of playing in the heat.  When considering your children, if the heat or humidity is high, limit their intense activities that last 15 minutes or more.  Don’t let them overheat.  Have water available and let them drink water freely so that they do not feel thirsty.  Have them take a break every 20 minutes.  They should follow the tips above for their clothing and skin protection.  If shirt or shorts become saturated with sweat, have them change clothes.

Avoid Heat-Related Illness

Be mindful of heat-related illnesses.  Symptoms can include:

  • heavy sweating
  • feeling faint, dizzy, weak, or tired
  • headache
  • breathing fast or feeling like your heart is beating faster than normal
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea or vomiting

The best way to avoid overheating is to stay in a cool place.  If your house is not air conditioned, consider going to the library or mall.  Don’t push yourself to hard.  If you have work to do outside, consider doing it in the morning or evening hours when it is cooler.  Be sure to bring a bottle of water with you when walking and drink from it regularly.

Have a wonderful and cool summer.  Always be safe and have fun!

How to Stay Safe While Fishing

Stay safe when fishing

Ahhh… those relaxing times on the boat — early morning, sitting back in the chair at the bow with your fishing line in the water.  Boating brings great enjoyment and relaxation.  Here is some general advice to help you stay safe while you are out on the water.

Boat Check

Before you actually launch your boat, do a “boat check.”  Make sure you have your onboard safety equipment, enough fuel and life vests. The U.S. Coast Guard provides free vessel safety checks if you would like to take advantage of the service.  (Check back in a couple weeks.  We will post a boating checklist that gives more detailed information.)

Take a Friend

It’s time to go fishing, and you really should take a friend with you. After all, the one thing better than telling your other buddies about “the one that got away” is to have a witness!  Your friend will also make good company in case you fall overboard, are suddenly sick, are incapacitated or in the emergency situations. In short, never fish alone.

Have Two Very Important Devices

Be sure to have a charged and working radio or other communication device in case someone gets hurt or you run out of fuel and get stuck in the middle of the lake.  You should also have a first aid kit with you.  Hooks are sharp, and it is easy to stab yourself and also possible to snag your friend if you don’t pay attention when casting.  (In a couple weeks, we will post a boating checklist that will include items that you should have on your boat.)

Other Items to Bring

There are a few other items that are helpful when fishing.

  • Cold drinks
  • Insect repellent
  • Appropriate Clothing
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Athletic shoes

Regarding clothing, be sure to check our article “Sun Protection and Sunburns.” It has a whole section about how to protect yourself from getting sunburned.

Our hope is that these tips will help you have a fun time on the water and in the sun.  Enjoy your fishing!  Be safe.

Protect Yourself from the Effects of the Sun

Protect yourself from the Affects of the Sun

This time of year, everyone wants to be outside. Being in the sun just feels good.  Have you ever wondered why?  You have probably also heard that being out in the sun without protection will cause premature aging (a.k.a., wrinkles and/or leathery skin) or even skin cancer.

The Sun and Your Skin

Sunlight can cause changes in your skin:

  • Freckles
  • Fine and Coarse Wrinkles
  • Discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation
  • Talangiectasias
  • Elastosis
  • Benign tumors
  • Pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesion-caused by loss of the skin’s immune function

“Skin cancer is caused by mutations that occur in skin cell DNA, which then cause the abnormal cells to multiply out of control. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the most common cause of the DNA mutations that cause skin cancer. UV radiation is found in sunlight and tanning lamps and beds.” (

There are different types of UV radiation.  UVA radiation has the longest wavelengths. UVB wavelengths are shorter, UVC has the shortest.  Because UVA radiation has the longest wavelength, it can penetrate the skin to the 2nd layer. UVB only affects the first layer.  Both UVA and UVB can damage your skin.

Benefits of Sunlight

Before getting scared and never going out again, let’s keep things in perspective.  There are some great benefits to be found in sunlight.

Our bodies metabolize sunlight into vitamin D.  Drs. Frank and Cedric Garland from the University of California, San Diego found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and cancer, and current research indicates that vitamin D deficiency increases risk of many cancers. You can read about one study in which vitamin D supplementation produced a 60% drop in the risk of developing cancer.

Other benefits include:

  • Beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients.
  • May lower risk for multiple sclerosis.
  • Helps heal psoriasis.
  • Can ease mild depression
  • Contributes to bone health in older adults
  • Can improve sleep quality.

The point is that there are many benefits from sunlight.  The key is to protect yourself.

Enjoy Yourself in the Sun

Protecting yourself from harmful UVA and UVB radiation from the sun is actually not hard.  In our article “Sun Protection and Sunburns,” we presented the ABC’s of staying safe in the sun. It’s important enough that we are repeating them here.

A: Avoid

Avoid the sun when it is strongest:  10AM-4PM.  When you are outdoors, find shade if possible.

B: Block

Wear sunscreen that is waterproof and at least SPF 15 or more. Use SPF 30 or more for children (and consider it for yourself).  Be sure your skin is dry before applying.  Choose a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  You might consider using SPF 30 lip balm.

Sunscreen should be applied to all areas of your body that will be exposed to the sun at least 15 minutes before going out.  Reapply every 2-3 hours or more often when swimming or sweating.

C: Cover Up

Wear clothing that covers the skin including hats and sunglasses that block UV rays.  You might even consider clothing made with sun-protective fabric.

One Last Thing to Keep in Mind

Some cosmetics, antibiotics, birth control or other medication and even some natural herbs increase sensitivity to UV rays.  Check with your doctor for guidelines regarding any medications or supplements that you might be taking.

Sun Protection and Sunburns

Sun protection and sunburns

Summer is a time that most people enjoy swimsuits, shorts and short sleeves.  However, the extra sun exposure can quickly cause sunburn in less than 15 minutes (thought it might not show up for 30 minutes).

Why should sunburn concern us?

According to, dermatologist Jeffrey Brackeen, MD, a member of The Skin Cancer Foundation, says that, “Repeat sunburns put you at a substantial risk for skin cancer and premature skin aging.”  (You can click here to download The Skin Cancer Foundation’s “Mini Skin Cancer Prevention Handbook.”)

Symptoms of Sunburn

We all know that skin turns red when it is sunburned. What you may not realize is that the redness does not occur at the time of the sunburn.  It can take as little as 30 minutes or up to 6 hours for redness to occur.  Though worst pain is usually within 48 hours or less, the burn develops over 1-3 days.  Afterward, the skin peeling can last for 3-8 days and may be accompanied by itching.

The ABC’s of Preventing Sunburn

Generally, darker-skinned people do not burn as easily as those with more fair skin.  However, protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is a must regardless of how fair or tan your skin.

A: Avoid

Avoid the sun when it is strongest:  10AM-4PM.  When you are outdoors, find shade if possible.

B: Block

Wear sunscreen that is waterproof and at least SPF 15 or more. Use SPF 30 or more for children (and consider it for yourself).  Be sure your skin is dry before applying.  Choose a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  You might consider using SPF 30 lip balm.

Sunscreen should be applied to all areas of your body that will be exposed to the sun at least 15 minutes before going out.  Reapply every 2-3 hours or more often when swimming or sweating.

C: Cover Up

Wear clothing that covers the skin including hats and sunglasses that block UV rays.  You might even consider clothing made with sun-protective fabric.

What to Do if You Get Sunburned

Get the Heat Out

Take frequent cool showers or baths.  You can also take a dip in a cool lake or pool to help reduce the heat.

Do not use ice directly on sunburn, but you can use a cold compress or a cool cloth.

While the skin is damp, use a gentle moisturizing lotion.

When using lotion, avoid petroleum or oil-based ointments because they can trap heat in the skin which can trap heat in the skin.

According to WebMD, topical steroids (like hydrocortisone cream) can help with pain and swelling, but you should NOT use the cream on children age 2 and under.  It should not be used in the rectal or vaginal area of children under 12.

Stay Hydrated and Rest

Sometimes a sunburn can cause a headache.  Lie down in a cool, quiet room to relieve it.

The burn will draw fluids from your body. In addition, headaches can sometimes be caused by dehydration.  Therefore, keep drink water so that you replace the fluids.