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Summer fun, summer safety guide

Ah…the promise of summer: sunny days and lazy evenings, barbecues and picnics, getaways and good times. To make sure those times really are good, heed these seasonal safety tips.

summer funSun smarts
A great tan may look good, but staying pale is definitely better for your health since skin cancer is directly related to sun exposure. Your best defense is to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If that puts a crimp in your summer plans, put your second best defense into action: Apply plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15; keep your head and body covered in light, loose layers; and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

If you do get a sunburn, apply aloe vera gel right away and take acetaminophen to ease minor discomfort. You'll probably be a little dehydrated so be sure to drink lots of water. Cool showers, baths or compresses can soothe the burn and prevent it from worsening. Call your healthcare provider if your skin blisters or if you develop chills, fever or nausea.

Sting savvy
If you or your child is stung by a bee, wasp or hornet, remove the stinger and venom sac by scraping it with your fingernail or a credit card. Do not squeeze and pull or you’ll release more venom. Wash the site with soap and water and apply an ice pack to stop the swelling. Be alert for signs of allergic reaction, such as wheezing, labored breathing, nausea or vomiting. Go to an emergency room should any of these symptoms develop. (If you or your child is allergic to bees, ask your healthcare provider about prescribing an emergency kit and keep it handy when you are outdoors.) To avoid getting stung in the first place, wear white or khaki-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants, avoid scented products and shiny jewelry and never swat at a stinging insect.

Water wisdom
Don't leave your common sense at home when you head beach-, lake- or poolside. Make sure a lifeguard is always present and keep a close eye on children in the water. Make sure all family members are wearing life jackets when riding in a boat.

Road rules
A summer road trip is an American tradition, but be careful not to overdo it. Take a five-minute break every hour to stretch your legs. The break will also help you avoid highway fatigue, a kind of hypnosis caused by driving long stretches of flat, empty road. If you know you'll be driving through desolate territory, keep a cooler with provisions in your trunk and make sure you have basic safety equipment, such as flares, a spare tire and a jack. And, of course, do'’t forget to make sure you and your kids buckle up!