Follow these tips to enjoy your summer safely

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., May. 23, 2013
- Contributed Photo

Summertime is fun time, or so it should be. To keep it that way, we should think about being safe and keeping our families safe during summertime activities. But it's not all play; most of us have some work to do outdoors.

Lawn mowing provides many opportunities for unsafe operation. Many injuries are caused running over sticks, stones, toys and the like. Inspect the lawn to pick those objects up before you start to mow. Use a mower with a “dead man switch” that immediately turns it off when the operator releases the handle or dismounts from a ride-on.

Mowing the lawn in shorts and flip-flops is just a bad idea. The result is marked up legs and feet, at best. Wear honest-to-goodness shoes and long pants.

Riding mowers are not play vehicles, and young children should not be the drivers. Even though you would like to see your son or daughter do a little work around the house, err on the side of their safety. In fact, keep your children out of the yard while you are cutting the grass.

I shouldn't have to tell you to turn off the mower and wait for it to stop running completely before dealing with any problems, or to empty the grass catcher. It definitely should not be running while you unclog the mulched grass. And only operate the mower while it is on a grass surface. Firing a random pebble or two at passers-by might well cause an injury.

If you have a ride-on machine, be sure not to take your path across hills and slopes. Rolling over on a mower can be deadly.

There will be times when repelling bugs is essential. I recommend insect repellents containing DEET to prevent annoying bug bites, as well as diseases such as Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. Read the labels to be sure you are getting the potency (10% to 30%) you need in whatever product you buy.

Swimming is a prime summertime activity. Get your children into swimming lessons (and become a swimmer yourself). Public pools and beaches have lifeguards, but they are not there to watch your children for you. Keep at least one eye on your children. If one of them disappears, check the water first, whether it's your backyard pool or the ocean. Be sure children understand the differences between swimming in open water (at the beach) and swimming in pools.

Adopt the buddy system, and practice it. Children should understand they must never go into any body of water without an adult swimmer watching over them.

It is not a bad idea for one or more family members to learn life-saving basics including CPR for children and adults.

If you have a pool at your home, and children are invited to visit, pool and gate alarms are a good safety precaution to alert you when they go near the water. You can also install an alarm that detects surface waves or underwater activity.

What is summer without cooking outdoors? Don't spoil a fun occasion by making a family member or guest ill from tainted food. Keep bacteria off your food by following food safety guidelines around your grilling area. Practice safe shopping with those steaks, ribs and chicken parts. Buy the meats last, and wrap them separately. Then drive right home and get them into the refrigerator. Freeze meats you will not be using in the next couple of days.

If you have to transport food before it goes on the grill, put it in a good cooler and keep it at 40° F or less. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.

Simply put, keep the cold food cold (in a cooler with ice, if necessary) and the hot food hot (on the grill) enough to discourage bacteria growth. Do not return cooked meat to the same plate it was on before it was cooked. Use a clean plate, and keep everything it touches clean. Throw away food that has been left out more than one hour in hot weather.

Finally, forget the tan. While you are outdoors, protect yourself with SPF 30 sunscreen.

Enjoy your summer safely.

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