Summer Fun Means Staying Safe

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Summer Safety

Summer in Los Angeles County means hotter temperatures, long days at the beach and backyard barbeques, but too much fun in the sun could quickly turn into tragedy.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health would like to remind beachgoers, sun lovers, and summer vacationers to lather on that sunscreen, use helmets when biking, and stay safe in the water.

Protecting Loved Ones from Heat:

# "In the past six months, there have been at least two deaths in California of small children who were left alone in a hot vehicle," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "This is a serious problem which can be easily prevented through vigilance by drivers and caretakers." Seven other children across the nation have also died. In 2006, there were 29 deaths nationwide related to hyperthermia. Studies show that these incidents can occur even on days with mild temperatures (i.e., 70 degrees F). To prevent this from happening, we recommend that: Drivers check around their vehicle before exiting; 39% of children killed by extreme temperatures inside a vehicle were forgotten by a caretaker.

# Never leave a child, elderly person or pet alone in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are open or "cracked."

# Owners should make sure parked vehicles are locked and that trunk latches are secure; 27 percent of hot vehicle deaths are from children playing and becoming trapped in an unattended vehicle.

Heat Related Illnesses:

# Summer temperatures in Los Angeles often reach 100 degrees and higher. It's easy to become overheated to the point of dangerous illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Here are some tips on staying cool: Drink lots of water or other fluids, but avoid drinking alcohol.

# Don't exercise during the hottest parts of the day, which is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

# Eat light, cool, and easy-to-digest foods, such as fruit or salad.

# Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help during extremely hot weather. Make sure they are able to stay in a cool location, such as an air-conditioned home, library or workplace.

# If you or someone you're with starts to feel faint, dizzy, or nauseated, or stops sweating in extremely hot weather, this could be a sign of a serious illness. Get them to a cool or shaded location, and call 911.

Sun Damage:

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

# Avoiding tanning and UV tanning booths.

# Using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Reapply often, especially after going into the water or excessive sweating.

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

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 could result in severe, permanent brain damage. These incidents can be prevented through: Active supervision; watch children at all times. Do not be distracted by conversations, reading, or napping.

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

# Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

# Enrolling children in swim lessons.

Biking and Skateboarding Safety:

# California Law (Vehicle Code Section 21212) requires all youth, 17 years of age and younger, to wear a helmet if they are riding bicycles, scooters, skateboards, or in- line/roller skates. But the benefits aren't just for kids. Wearing a properly fitted helmet could reduce the risk of death or brain injury by 88%. More tips on wheel safety include: Making sure the helmet and bike fit the rider - don't buy something too big hoping your child will "grow into it" later.

# Ensuring people wear their helmets properly, even if it doesn't look cool.

# Observing all traffic laws and signals.

# Properly maintaining all equipment.

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.

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