By Cassandra Harris
Summer is here, and so is the heat. With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees this week, it’s a good time to remind ourselves about heatstroke prevention for children in cars.
In just 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can raise over 20 degrees. The leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger, heatstroke can occur when children are left alone in a car. That’s why it’s important for parents and caregivers to take careful precautions to reduce the risk of child heatstroke.
Here are some quick tips:
- Don’t leave your child alone in the car, even for a minute.
- Remember to ACT: Avoid heatstroke. Create reminders. Take action.
- If you see a child left alone in a hot car, call 911 immediately.
For more information, click here.
By Mary-Kathryn Craft
With temperatures breaking the century mark across South Carolina this week, taking a dip in a cool lake, river, ocean or pool might be high on your list.
Before you and your family spend time in the water or on a boat this summer, put safety first. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In South Carolina, accidental drowning is the third leading cause of death for children under 14.
Water safety tips to keep in mind:
- Always supervise children around bodies of water.
- It’s a good idea to appoint an adult to be the “water watcher” and take turns to give children in the water your undivided attention.
- Enroll children and adults in swimming lessons.
- Swim only in designated areas that are watched by a lifeguard.
- Don’t swim alone even if an area is staffed with lifeguards. Always use the buddy system.
- Do not dive into oceans, lakes or rivers. You never know how deep the water is or what might be below the surface.
When boating, follow these guidelines:
- Always have children wear a life jacket that is U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Don’t rely on swimming aids like water wings or noodles. Learn more about life jackets from Safe Kids Worldwide.
- Never drink alcohol.
- Get a free safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
- Develop basic rules for your boat and explain to passengers. Children should know to keep hands and feet inside the vessel and not to run on the boat.
Learn more about safe swimming from the American Red Cross and the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Find more details on boating safety and life jackets here.
By Betsy Crick
People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.
Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.
Who’s at Greatest Risk?
Because heat-related deaths are preventable, people need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death. The elderly, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Replace salt and minerals
- Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully
- Pace yourself
- Stay cool indoors
- Use a buddy system
- Do not leave children in cars
- Use common sense
For more information on how heat impacts health, please visit the DHEC website.
By Betsy Crick
Rip currents are powerful, fast-moving channels of water – up to 8 feet per second – that typically flow from the shoreline to beyond the area where waves break. They can form on any beach or lake shore where waves are breaking, often near sandbars, jetties and piers.
Rip currents are capable of dragging even the strongest of swimmers far away from the shore, causing distress and panic.
Where should I look for rip currents?
Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves, and can be difficult for the average beachgoer to identify. Look for any of these clues:
- Channel of churning, choppy water
- Area having a notable difference in water color
- Line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
- Break in the incoming wave pattern
How to survive a rip current?
Never swim alone. If in doubt, don’t go out! If you get caught in a rip current, try to stay calm and:
- Don’t fight the current
- Relax and float to conserve energy
- Do NOT try to swim directly to shore. Swim parallel to the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
- If you feel you can’t reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help.
For more information, please visit the National Weather Service.