Editorial: Stay safe this summer

After a cooler than usual spring, it looks like those dog days of summer are quickly approaching.

With the transition from spring to summer (it doesn't officially begin until June 20), our days here in north Georgia are becoming increasingly longer. And that's not the only thing increasing — temperatures are soaring into the 90s. Those 100-degree days will be here before we know it.

As the temperature rises, there are still many chores we have to accomplish: mowing the lawn, painting a fence, getting the pool ready for a long summer of use, etc. There are also plenty of pleasurable things for us to do: boating on the lake, catching lightning bugs with our children at dusk, family cookouts.

But while we are outside, we must pay attention to the heat and also remember rules to keep us secure around water. Here are tips that we can all follow from the American Red Cross with the goal of having a fun and safe summer.

Heat safety

1. Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

2. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors — they absorb the sun’s rays.

3. Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

4. Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.

5. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

Water safety

1. Do your part, be water smart. Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well.

2. Actively supervise children by staying within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers.

3. Don’t fool with a pool: fence it in. Enclose your pool and spa with four-sided, four-foot fencing and use self-closing, self-latching gates.

4. Don’t just pack it, wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket — always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level. Inflatable children’s toys and water wings can be fun, but they are no substitute for a life jacket and close adult supervision.

5. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair — everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards.

We hope you enjoy your summer safely.

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