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Summer Fun Means Summer Safety

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Summer Safety

Summer in Los Angeles County means hotter temperatures, long days at the beach and backyard barbeques, but having a healthy summer also means avoiding some dangerous situations.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health would like to remind beachgoers, sun lovers and summer vacationers to be aware of hot weather dangers, sun damage, drowning prevention, and recreational water illness.

# Hot Weather Dangers: Getting overheated could lead to heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Take the following precautions: Slow down and cool off if you feel tired, have a headache, a high pulse rate or shallow breathing. These could be symptoms of heat exhaustion.

# Drink plenty of water and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.

# Don't exercise outdoors during the hottest hours of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

# Sun Safety: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, out of all the states, California had the highest increases in new cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, last year. The American Cancer Society says research shows up to 90% of melanoma cases are linked to sun exposure. Tips for preventing skin cancer include: Staying in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

# Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths

# Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. If you don t like the feel of a sunscreen lotion, try out new products such as sunscreen sprays. Reapply often, especially after going into the water.

# Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreen may be used on babies six months and older.

# See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

Drowning Prevention: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children under the age of 15. "For every drowning fatality, 4 to 10 children suffer a near-drowning incident, which may result in severe, permanent brain damage," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

# Drowning can be prevented through: Active supervision, including watching children in the water at all times. Do not become distracted by conversations, either in person or on the phone, reading, or napping.

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# Installing fences with self-closing and self-latching gates around pools and spas.

# Keeping lifesaving equipment in the pool or spa area, and know how to use it.

# Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

# Enrolling children in swim lessons.

# Teaching children to practice the buddy system. Never let anyone swim alone.

# At the beach, always watch for warning flags, or check with the lifeguard for potential hazards.

Recreational Water Illnesses: Recreational water illnesses are caused by germs spread in recreational waters (i.e., pools, spas, the ocean, lakes or rivers). Diarrheal illnesses are most commonly reported and may be due to Cryptosporidium, Giardia, or E. coli O.157. Swimmers who ingest contaminated water could experience severe symptoms such as diarrhea and milder symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and nausea.

Children ages one to nine years of age are particularly vulnerable to these illnesses as they tend to swallow more water. Pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk.

# Recreational water illnesses are largely preventable by following these simple recommendations: Pool and spa owners should routinely disinfect these using chlorine or an equivalent product.

# Swimmers and children who are suffering from diarrhea should not enter recreational waters while ill.

# Parents with toddlers should use swim diapers on their children and should check the diaper often. If it needs to be changed, this should be done in the restroom, and not at the side of the pool. Remember to wash hands after changing a baby s diaper.

# Swimmers should practice good hygiene by washing hands after using the restroom and shower before entering recreational water.

# Children should be encouraged not to swallow water.

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $700 million.