Written by Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, MS
A: When boating or swimming, supervise your children at all times. Watch children around any water environment (pool, stream, lake, tub, toilet, bucket of water), no matter what skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water. Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when around water. Be sure to use a feet-first entry into the water. Do not drink alcohol before or during swimming or boating. Keep track of the weather, and find shelter if the weather turns bad. Teach children about water safety, and let them know that it’s not okay to run, push, or do things that threaten the safety of others.
Q: How can I keep my family safe during high temperatures this summer?
A: Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, even when you don’t feel thirsty. Remember that beverages containing alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you further. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing in “breathable” fabrics like cotton and linen to keep you cool. Also, heat-related illnesses can creep up on you. Early symptoms like dry mouth and thirst can be managed with water and sports drinks. However, if symptoms progress to include headache, dizziness, cramps, fatigue, irritability, vomiting, loss of consciousness, high temperature, or red, hot and dry skin, seek medical care as soon as possible. Young children, the elderly, those involved in strenuous activity, and those with taking medication for a chronic condition should be especially careful during the hot summer months to avoid heat-related illness.
Send questions to Ask the Surgeon General, 201 Townsend St., Lansing, MI 48913 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (type “Ask the Surgeon General” in the subject field).