Posts

eclipse safety

How to view the solar eclipse without hurting your eyes

On Aug. 21, sky gazers across the country will be treated to the sight of a total solar eclipse – a once-in-a-lifetime event where the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking the sun’s light for a brief period.

This awesome event is cause for excitement – and caution. Staring at the sun without protection – even briefly – can severely damage your eyes, so it’s important to know how to view the eclipse safely.

Here are some tips.

Get special glasses – and beware of fakes

Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes while looking at the eclipse.

Thankfully, inexpensive special eclipse glasses are available that provide protection while still allowing you to watch the event. Beware, however, of glasses that are marketed as safe for the eclipse, but do not meet NASA’s recommended guidelines.

NASA advises you to only purchase eclipse glasses that are made by American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical or TSE 17 and also have the international safety standard ISO 12312-2 printed on them.

Find out if you’re in the path of totality

Although everyone in the continental United States will be able to see some part of the eclipse, only residents along a select path will be able to see the eclipse in totality – or the moment when the sun is completely covered by the moon.

This 70-mile-wide path stretches from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast and includes portions of Western Kentucky. During the moment of totality, which may last for less than a minute in some locations, it is safe to view the the eclipse without glasses.

For those of us outside of the path of totality, however, glasses must be worn at all times. To see a map of the eclipse’s path of totality, visit NASA’s Eclipse 101 guide.

Follow these tips for a fun, safe viewing

No matter where you’re viewing the eclipse, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Keep a close eye on kids watching the eclipse, and make sure they’re wearing eclipse glasses at all times.
  • Even if you’re wearing proper glasses, don’t view the eclipse through a camera, telescope or binoculars. The concentrated rays that comes through the optical device can damage the eclipse filter on your glasses and cause harm to your eyes.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them.
  • Look away from the sun when putting on and removing your eclipse glasses. Never take them off while looking at the sun.

Next steps:

bug bites

It’s bug-bite season – do you know how to protect yourself?

You step outside to enjoy the summer sun and before you know it, you’re covered in bug bites. Sound familiar? Insects thrive in hot and humid weather, which means outdoor activities during this time of year can quickly turn into a feeding frenzy if you don’t take precautions.

Bites from insects such as mosquitoes and ticks can cause annoying itchiness and spread more serious diseases, like Zika virus, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Find out what you can do to keep you and your family safe from bug bites this summer.

Use insect repellent

Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET for protection against mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. Other repellents protect against mosquitoes but may not be effective against ticks or other bugs.

If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry and then apply repellent. Do not use products that contain both sunscreen and repellent. Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

Consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) that are treated with permethrin, which is an insecticide. You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes. If treating items yourself, follow instructions carefully. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.

Cover exposed skin

As much as possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and a hat.

Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks for maximum protection. Some bugs can bite through thin fabric.

Think about the indoors, too

Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress.

Protect the little ones

Here are some helpful tips for applying repellent on children:

  • Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Children should not touch repellent. Adults, apply it to your hands and gently spread it over the child’s exposed skin.
  • Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they tend to put their hands in their mouths.
  • Keep repellent out of the reach of children.

For babies under 2 months old, protect them by draping mosquito netting over their carrier or car seat. Netting should have an elastic edge for a tight fit.

Pregnant women, be careful

Some infections, including Zika, can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, so pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling. In the case of Zika, because infection in a pregnant woman is linked to serious birth defects and miscarriage, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks.

When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

When to seek help

If you’ve been bitten, be sure to see a doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • The sensation that your throat is closing.
  • Swollen lips, tongue or face.
  • Chest pain.
  • A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes.
  • Dizziness.
  • Vomiting.
  • A headache.
  • A red, donut-shaped or target-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite. This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.
  • A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads. This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.

Next steps:

Following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid.

Planning a cookout? Follow our grilling safety tips

Cookouts and barbecues are a staple of the summer season, but firing up the grill can be dangerous if you don’t follow the proper precautions.

Each year, grilling accidents cause nearly 10,000 home fires and send 16,000 people to the emergency room. But following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid:

  • Use grills outside only. Even small grills used inside create fire hazards, plus they release carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to people and pets without proper ventilation.
  • Keep the grill away from the home, deck railing, overhanging tree branches and any flammable decorations. Make sure nothing flammable can blow onto the grill.
  • Use the right lighter fluid for your grill, and store it away from the heat and out of the reach of children.
  • Establish a child- and pet-free zone. Make sure children and pets are indoors and/or being supervised by someone other than the cook. And keep them at least three feet from the grill. Burns from contacting a hot grill are especially common in kids under 5.
  • Clean the grill well before use. Grease and fat can build up on the grill and contribute to fires.
  • Don’t overload the grill. Excess fat dripping on the flames can cause major flare-ups.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Use it to douse small flare-ups before they get out of control. The bonus? Water won’t ruin the food.
  • Never leave your grill unattended. And remember that charcoal grills can stay hot for hours after use.
  • If your flame dies down, add dry kindling. Never add lighter fluid once the flame has been lit.

When using a gas grill

  • Make sure the lid is open before lighting it. This prevents flammable gas from being trapped in the chamber, which can cause an explosion.
  • If you smell gas and the flame is off, turn the gas off.
  • If you smell gas while using a gas grill and the flame is on, get away immediately. This is a sign that there is a leak. Call the fire department, and stay away from the grill.

Next steps:

Fireworks safety tips from UK HealthCare

Got fireworks? Keep your Fourth fun, safe with these tips

Thousands of children and adolescents in the United States are injured in firework-related accidents every year during fireworks season, which starts now and runs through the middle of July.

In fact, in 2015, more than 3,000 children and young adults under the age of 20 in the United States were taken to emergency rooms with injuries related to fireworks.

Before you and your family head outside to enjoy the Fourth of July and other summer festivities, check out our tips for staying safe around fireworks.

  • Leave it to the professionals. Instead of setting off fireworks at home, attend a public fireworks display. You’ll be out of harm’s way and still be able to enjoy the show.
  • If you are using fireworks at home, take precautions. Never let children play with or light fireworks, and always read all warning labels before use.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks. And be sure to stand several feet away from lit fireworks.
  • Have an extinguisher nearby. A bucket of water, hose or fire extinguisher will work.
  • Don’t try to relight a firework that hasn’t worked properly. Instead, put it out with water and get rid of it.
  • Be careful with sparklers. Sparklers heat up to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and present a real health risk, especially for small children. Instead of sparklers, let your little ones use glow sticks – they’ll have fun and stay safe, too.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Have a phone nearby in case you need to call 911, and teach children what to do if their clothing catches fire (stop, drop and roll). In the case of an eye injury, avoid touching or rubbing it, which can make the injury worse, and get help immediately.

Next steps:

As summer approaches and temperatures rise, it's important to learn how to recognize and treat different heat-related illnesses.

Learn how to recognize heat-related illness in yourself and others

Heat is one of the leading weather-related causes of death in the U.S., resulting in an average of over 600 fatalities annually. Heat-related illnesses account for an average of 2,800 hospitalizations nationwide each year.

Summer is here, and it’s important to keep in mind that your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged on very hot and humid days. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly – or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating – body temperature rises. This can result in a heat-related illness or death if left untended.

Also know that age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.

To be safe and keep those around you safe on extremely hot and humid days, it is important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

Heat cramps

Heat cramps may be the first sign of heat-related illness and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.

Symptoms:

  • Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen.
  • Heavy sweating.

First aid:

  • Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm.
  • Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms:

  • Heavy sweating.
  • Weakness.
  • Cool, pale or clammy skin.
  • Fast, weak pulse.
  • Possible muscle cramps.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Fainting.

First aid:

  • Move person to a cooler environment.
  • Lay person down and loosen clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible.
  • Fan or move victim to an air conditioned room.
  • Offer sips of water.
  • If person vomits more than once, seek immediate medical attention.

Heat stroke

Symptoms:

  • Altered mental state.
  • One or more of the following symptoms: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness or shallow breathing.
  • Body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin.
  • Rapid and strong pulse.
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness.

First aid:

  • Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
  • Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.
  • Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath.
  • Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures.
  • Do NOT give fluids. (It may lead to pulmonary edema.)

How to stay safe during hot weather

Everyone should take these steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries and deaths:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
    • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
    • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.

Next steps:

drowning

Drowning isn’t obvious. Here’s how to spot someone in trouble.

Many of us assume we know what it looks like when a person is drowning: Waving hands, splashing water and shouts for help.

Unfortunately, drowning isn’t nearly that obvious. One of the most alarming things about drowning is that unlike its depiction in Hollywood, it’s a deceptively quiet event.

Every day in the U.S., about 10 people die from drowning. Among children 15 and under, it is the No. 2 leading cause of deaths (just behind car accidents). And for every child who dies from drowning, there are five others who require emergency room care or hospitalization.

Although it may be difficult to identify someone who is drowning, there are common behaviors that might indicate something is wrong. The behaviors are known as the instinctive drowning response. That term was coined by Francesco A. Pia, PhD, a lifeguard and internationally recognized expert in drowning prevention. Here’s what Pia says a drowning person might look like:

  1. They’re quiet. Struggling to breathe makes it almost impossible to call for help. They may also be bobbing up and down as their mouth goes above and below the water line.
  2. They won’t be waving for help. In fact, the body’s natural response is to extend the arms laterally, allowing the person to push down and lift their head above water.
  3. They’ll be upright in the water. People who are drowning will not kick their legs and will appear relatively still. Their bodies will appear to be straight up and down in the water.

When a person is drowning, they’ll only be above water for between 20-60 seconds total. That’s why recognizing the more subtle signs of someone in distress can mean the difference between life and death.


Next steps:

water safety tips

8 tips to keep kids safe around water

Before you head to the pool or lake this summer, be sure safety is on your mind, especially when children are around.

Among children age 15 and under, drowning is the No. 2 leading cause of death. Whenever children are near water, follow these safety rules:

1. Be aware of small bodies of water

This includes bathtubs, fishponds, ditches, fountains, watering cans – even the bucket you use when you wash the car. Children are drawn to things like these and need constant supervision to be sure they don’t fall in. Make sure you empty containers of water when you’re done using them.

2. Keep a watchful eye

Children who are swimming – even in a shallow toddler’s pool – should always be watched by an adult, preferably one who knows CPR. Be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision” whenever infants, toddlers or young children are in or around water. Empty and put away inflatable pools after each play session.

3. Enforce safety rules

No running near the pool and no pushing others underwater.

4. Don’t forget life jackets

A life jacket fits properly if you can’t lift it over a child’s head after it’s been fastened. For children younger than 5, particularly non-swimmers, life jackets should have a flotation collar to keep the head upright and the face out of the water.

Don’t allow your child to use inflatable toys or mattresses in place of a life jacket. These toys may deflate suddenly, or your child may slip off into water that is too deep.

5. Safety in the backyard

Backyard swimming pools (including large, inflatable above-ground pools) should be completely surrounded by a fence that keeps children out without adult supervision. Keep toys out of the pool area when not in use so children are not tempted to enter without supervision.

If your pool has a cover, remove it completely before children go swimming. Also, never allow children to walk on the pool cover.

6. Avoid hot tubs

Spas and hot tubs are dangerous for young children, who can easily drown or become overheated in them.

7. Adults, stay away from alcohol

Don’t drink alcohol when you are swimming or supervising. It presents a danger for you as well as for any children you might be supervising.

8. Eliminate distractions

Talking on the phone, working on the computer and other tasks need to wait until children are out of the water.


Next steps:

  • When someone is drowning, it often goes unnoticed. No splashing. No waving. No yelling for help. Visit the blog tomorrow to find out how you can identify someone who’s drowning and what you can do to help.
  • Before you head outside to enjoy the summertime sunshine, be sure to protect your eyes with tips from our eye care expert. 
Before heading outside this summer, make sure you and your family follow all of our sun protection tips. These steps can help prevent skin cancer.

Don’t get burned – here’s how to protect your skin in the sun

It only takes 15 minutes in the sun to damage your skin.

Before you head outside to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, here’s what you need to know to protect your skin.

Sunscreen

Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking ultraviolet (UV) rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15, even on cool or slightly cloudy days.

Broad-spectrum on a product’s label means the sunscreen filters out ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation exposure. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and are mostly responsible for premature aging and skin cancer. UVB rays affect the surface of the skin and cause sunburn.

Don’t forget to put a thick layer of sunscreen on all parts of exposed skin. Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back. Here are some additional things to keep in mind when using sunscreen:

  • Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
  • Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures. Be sure to check your sunscreen’s expiration date.
  • Some makeup and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they don’t have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.

Avoid peak sun

Try not to schedule outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Shade

You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree or other shelter. Even when you are in shade, be sure to protect your skin by using sunscreen or wearing protective clothing.

Clothing

Long-sleeved shirts, long pants and skirts can protect you from UV rays. Tightly woven fabrics offer the best protection. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors protect more than lighter ones. Some clothing certified under international standards is specifically manufactured to provide UV protection.

If wearing this type of clothing isn’t practical, try to wear a T-shirt or a beach cover-up. Keep in mind that a typical T-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so use other types of protection as well.

Hat

For the most protection, wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears and the back of your neck. Tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. A darker hat may offer more UV protection.

If you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck. Wear clothing that covers those areas, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen or stay in the shade.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.

Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from entering on the side.


Next steps: