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Summer is here
Tips for a cool, safe summer
Summer safety pic 1
A boy tubes down a rapid at Dawsonvilles Edge of the World on June 26. - photo by Allie Dean Dawson County News

The first day of summer was June 21 and with the hot weather residents in the north Georgia mountains have been experiencing, officials are urging caution for citizens participating in any outdoor or recreational activity.

Below are some tips for staying safe and combatting the heat for a fun, relaxing summer.

Swimming
Warm weather means more and more people out on Lake Lanier and in other bodies of water such as rivers and swimming pools. Utilizing a buddy system, life preservers and common sense can go a long way to prevent drowning and injury, experts say.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encourage the use of life jackets when boating and swimming in lakes, rivers and in the ocean. According to the USACE, falls overboard contribute to 27 percent of boating fatalities. Wearing a life jacket increases the boater's chances of being rescued.

Dawson County Emergency Services have recommended using the acronym SPLASH to help remember water safety measures.

S-Supervision
P- Prevention
L- Look before you leap
A- Arms-length from a buddy
S- Swim Lessons
H- Have a water safety plan

Wildlife
Bites from snakes, mosquitos, ticks and other animals are more likely to occur during the summer months when more people are out of doors.

The Centers for Disease Control says that an insect repellent containing 20 percent or more DEET can help prevent bites and diseases like Zika, West Nile virus and Lyme disease, which can all be transmitted by insects.

The CDC also has tips for creating a tick safe zone at your home, which includes removing leaf litter, mowing the lawn frequently, keeping playground equipment, decks and patios away from yard edges and trees and stacking wood in a dry area to discourage rodents.

Bathing as soon as possible after coming indoors and conducting a full body tick check can help reduce the risk of a tick staying on your body for an extended period of time. A pair of tweezers can be used to remove ticks, as long as you grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull firmly upwards. Twisting can cause some parts of the tick to remain in your skin.

The University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory says that most snake species in the southeast are harmless and all only bite in defense. Wearing appropriate attire, watching your step and not attempting to capture snakes will help mitigate the dangers of being bit.

In case of a snakebite, call 911 or take the victim to a hospital emergency room. Take note of the snake's size and appearance but do not try to kill or capture the snake.

Fireworks
With 4th of July celebrations starting this weekend, it is imperative that residents be mindful of not only their own safety when lighting fireworks at home but also the safety of others.

A recent release from Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens urges residents to use extreme caution to avoid fires and severe injuries when using fireworks, as around 8,000 people annually are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries in the U.S.

Hudgens said that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display. If that is not possible, Hudgens offers the following fireworks safety suggestions:

· Purchase fireworks from a licensed fireworks dealer.
· Observe all state laws regarding the use of fireworks.
· Read the labels carefully before igniting any fireworks.
· Ensure that an adult supervises all firework activities.
· Never allow children to ignite fireworks.
· Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
· Light only one firework at a time.
· Only use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
· Never try to relight a firework.
· Have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby.
· Use caution with animals. Excitement, noise, and lights can cause fear and stress.

Officials with the Georgia Forestry Commission would also like to remind county residents that the county is under a burn ban until Sept. 30. While campfires do not fall under the burn ban, citizens are encouraged to be extremely cautious when doing any type of outdoor cooking.

Automobiles
For many warmer weather means road trips to the beach and bike rides through the mountains, but for the Georgia State Patrol, summertime means increased road traffic and potential for automobile and motorcycle accidents.

GSP urge drivers to buckle up, not text and drive, and also urges car drivers to be extra cautious around motorcycles.

Helmets should be worn at all times on motorcycles as well as bikes, skateboards, skates and other recreational equipment.

Citizens should also be mindful when playing on asphalt and walking pets- pavement gets hot and can burn skin.

Children should also be taught not to play in cars and adults should be mindful that no child should be left unattended in a car during the summer.

According to Kids Safe Georgia, every 10 days in the U.S. a child dies due to heat stroke induced from being left in a hot car. Temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, so parents and caretakers should resist the urge to leave children in cars while they run into stores.

Pet owners should also be mindful of warmer temperatures and not leave pets in cars.

Health
Taking care of your skin and overall health becomes even more important during the summer with hot temperatures, more intense sunlight and more outdoor activity.

Experts at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta encourage limiting sun exposure during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. When outdoors, apply one ounce of sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to the entire body and reapply every two hours or after excessive sweating or swimming.

Sun protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves and sunglasses are also recommended, as well as seeking shade during peak hours.

Dehydration is also a real threat during the summer months. Relying on thirst is a poor indicator of hydration- when you begin to feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta experts say prehydrating and drinking water during outdoor activity is a good way to stay hydrated, as well as drinking sports drinks with carbohydrates and electrolytes after activity that lasts longer than an hour.