Wishing You a Safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer fun and we want everyone to have a safe holiday.  Whether the weekend will involve travel, grilling or swimming, we have safety tips everyone can follow. Have fun and be safe!

SWIMMING SAFETY Learning to swim is one of the best steps someone can take to be safe around water. People can contact their local Red Cross chapter and learn how to swim as well as get the facts about water safety, home pool safety, first aid and CPR classes. Other swimming safety tips include:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

POOL SAFETY It’s important to constantly supervise children when they are near water. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water. Avoid distractions when supervising children around water. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF) have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, and how to respond to an emergency.

DOWNLOAD FIRST AID APP Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app which puts expert advice for everyday emergency at someone’s fingertips. The free app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.

DRIVE SAFELY With more people on the roads, it’s important to drive safely. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. If plans include drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink. Other tips for a safe trip include:

  • Give one’s full attention to the road.  Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  •  Make frequent stops.
  • Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night.
  • Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather. Don’t overdrive the headlights.

GRILLING SAFETY The Red Cross offers these tips to stay safe while cooking those tasty cookout treats:

  • Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use, and make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Keep the chef safe by using the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary.
  • Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease.
  • Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups.
  • Wash one’s hands in hot soapy water before preparing food, after touching raw meat and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, stopping to do something with children.

The dog days of summer are here–Are you ready?

As the dog days of summer deliver hot temperatures and high humidity to our region, it is crucial that you take necessary precautions against the heat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400 Americans die each year due to summer’s sweltering heat. In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.

Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees; and the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches. Persons with heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

“Our goal is to give people the information they need to protect themselves and their families from heat-related illnesses,” said Scott R. Salemme, chief executive officer for the Columbia Region of the American Red Cross.

Red Cross Heat Wave Safety Tips:

  • Prepare. Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for what to do if the power goes out.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
  • Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
  • Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m. Take frequent breaks.
  • Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they simply circulate the air.
  • Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on family, friends and neighbors who are elderly or ill and those who do not have air conditioning. Check on your animals frequently, too, to make sure they are not suffering from the heat. 
  • Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR/AED.

Know What These Heat-Related Terms Mean:

  • Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. They are caused by exposure to heat and humidity, and loss of fluids. Heat cramps are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
  • Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
  • Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature-control system, which produces sweat as a way of cooling the body, stops working. Body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.

General Care for Heat Emergencies:

  • Heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes, and have the person drink slowly. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to the skin. Fan the person. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
  • Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet towels or sheets around the body. Use a water hose, if available, to cool the victim. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

Make sure you are prepared for this summer’s heat. Red Cross training can give you the skills and confidence to act in an emergency. For more information contact your local Red Cross chapter at (803) 540-1200 or visit www.columbiaregionredcross.org.

Click here for more heat wave preparedness tips: Heat Wave Safety Checklist

Summer Safety Saves Lives

With summer just around the corner, it is important to recognize the dangers that accompany many of your favorite summertime activities. Therefore, the American Red Cross offers a variety of resources, such as the American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety program, to teach people how to be safer in, on and around water. The American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety program is a comprehensive training program designed to teach participants not only how to swim, but also how to avoid potentially dangerous situations and how to take effective action in emergency situations. The program consists of swimming courses for all ages and abilities, as well as a wide range of water safety courses and presentations.

In addition to the American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety program, the Red Cross also offers a Home Pool Essentials™: Maintenance and Safety Online Course, a two-hour course that covers the basics of operating a home pool, raises awareness of how to make a safer environment, and teaches basic rescue techniques. For more information on available safety courses, please contact your local Red Cross chapter at (803) 540-1200 or visit http://www.columbiaregionredcross.org.

 See how one young boy miraculously saved his sister’s life: http://cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2011/04/19/az.boy.saves.sister.knxv

Click here for a full list of tips for summer water safety.