Every summer many people hit the road in search of a new thrill, a bit of respite or even just a weekend escape.
Whether visiting a local amusement park, fishing or hiking, it is important to be aware of the necessary precautions to ensure a safe, enjoyable trip.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), each year increased activity, and heat of the summer months is accompanied by an increase in injury risk. From dehydration to sporting injuries, the risks associated with the summer months should be addressed by taking safety precautions and remaining aware of the risks associated with certain activities.
Boating, hiking, camping and fishing are just a few of the numerous outdoor activities people participate in during the season. As participation in outdoor recreational activities continues to increase across the country, there are also more reports on tragic injuries and deaths from accidental drownings, lost hikers and lightning strikes, among others.
In 2017, the Coast Guard reported 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,903 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
Between 2011 through 2014, an estimated 8.6 million sports- and recreation-related injuries occurred annually, according to the CDC’s National Health Statistics Reports, produced in 2106.
Therefore, it is important to remember to take every precaution to reduce the risks associated with these activities. From stretching before playing sports to understanding lifejacket safety when boating, there are important safety measures that must be taken when participating in any summertime recreation.
Additionally, the importance of staying cool and hydrated during the warm summer months cannot be overstated. High humidity and various personal factors can negatively impact the rate at which the body cools itself, according to the CDC. Because of this, the CDC encourages anyone that plans to be outdoors to “drink more water than usual, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.”
Service members and civilians are not alone when spending time outdoors in the summer; countless critters and insects make their return during the season. These creatures range from ticks and mosquitoes to snakes and rodents, and being prepared to encounter these critters is another factor of summertime safety.
Although many people do not expect to encounter poisonous snakes living in metropolitan areas, Northern Copperheads, Eastern Cottonmouths and Timber Rattlesnakes can be found in various places in the Mid-Atlantic region according to the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Locally, they can be spotted in nearby Rock Creek Park and Great Falls National Park.
And while snakes, ticks and hornets can put a damper on summertime activities, mosquitos still remain the primary pest of summer. Mosquitos not only are their bites annoying, but they also may carry a variety of diseases including Dengue, Chikyngunya and Zika viruses.
Army Capt. Donny Skinner, chief of Walter Reed Bethesda’s Environmental Health Department, explained that the DC metro area, “has tested positive the last few years for West Nile Virus.”
Skinner provided some measures to prevent against mosquito bites, “Avoid mosquito hotspots, places near standing water; use repellant; wear light colors and mosquitoes are prevalent during dust and dawn, so avoid being outside during these times.”
“If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second,” explained Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rodney Fils-Julien, non-commissioned officer-in-charge for Environmental Health Services at WRB’s Department of Public Health.
As a former Navy nurse and WRB’s Command Emergency manager, Chris Gillette understands the importance of planning ahead to avoid potential injuries or disasters. Water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are just a few of the items that he takes along with him while working or relaxing outdoors. He also takes frequent breaks in the shade, ensures someone knows where he’s going and has an emergency contact plan.
In a personal first aid kit, Gillette recommends the inclusion of the following items: antibacterial soap, hydrogen peroxide, adhesive bandages (different sizes), medical wrapping, tape, scissors, tourniquet, antibiotic and burn ointment, instant ice and heat packs, peroxide, a few pairs of latex gloves and ibuprofen. Some of the listed items might not be found in a basic first aid kit. Therefore, Gillette recommends creating a personal preparedness kit that combines these items with those found in a basic first aid kit.
Planning ahead also applies to road trips and vehicle safety.
“When it comes to the summer road trip, ensure you vehicle is in good working order (wiper fluid too), turn the do-not-disturb on you cell phone on; or have your co-pilot assume the duties of navigator, DJ, text-master, and snapchat champion,” stated WRB’s Command Master Chief Sean Brown.
Brown also cautioned, “Not everyone in the DMV drives as well as you do, so please buckle up.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts have saved 330,507 lives between 1975 and 2014.