Families and friends throughout Wisconsin are planning outdoor activities this 4th of July to enjoy summer to its fullest.
Keeping those celebrations fun means thinking ahead about a few ways to ensure everyone stays safe.
After winter, a cold spring, and years of various Covid-19 restrictions, we’re all ready to jump into summer with both feet.
Taking some simple precautions especially for our elders and little ones can make the holiday even more enjoyable. Pausing to put on sunscreen or grab a water bottle can mean preventing discomfort or even an unexpected illness.
Covid-19 is still a thing
As families and friends plan for fireworks, picnics, and fun this July Fourth, they should also prepare for COVID-19 safety.
We’re currently dealing with a surge of COVID across the country, the scope of which has been underestimated given the increased use of home tests. It’s likely a large number of positive results are going unreported.
The latest data—from June 27—showed a testing positivity rate well above the World Health Organization’s 5% benchmark, indicating a high spread and cause for concern.
With so many mixing in large numbers and traveling this weekend, the already high risk of transmission becomes even greater. The risk is significant even among those who previously had COVID-19 because reinfections are becoming more common.
Everyone is tired of the pandemic at this point, but if we want to avoid a nasty illness and the potentially devastating effects of long COVID, we can follow a few simple precautions that limit our risk of getting sick. You don’t have to stay home; you just have to be smart.
Sunburn can lead to skin cancer over time. Unprotected skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes, according to the CDC.
Sunburns may not appear for 12 hours, so you may think you’re fine and then end up with a bad burn. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against damaging UVA and UVB rays.
Sunscreen is recommended for adults, teens, children, and babies older than six months.
Sunscreen should be applied at least half an hour before going outside and then replenished every couple of hours or more, depending on whether a person is in the water or sweating.
Consider staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their peak. Consider additional protection such as hats, or umbrellas. The ears, neck, and face are particularly vulnerable to sun exposure and damage.
Many families will be enjoying time on Wisconsin lakes and rivers over the July 4th holiday weekend. Following key safety precautions can help ensure the celebration stays fun and safe for everyone.
When it comes to swimming, designate a person in your party to be the “water watcher” to ensure someone always has an eye on the lake, river, pond, or pool.
Always keep an eye on everyone in the water, particularly children of all ages, but adults, too. Anyone can get fatigued in the water and be at risk of drowning.
Always follow boating rules and regulations, and always make sure a lifejacket is on board for each person. Additionally, water and alcohol never mix.
Of course, whoever is driving the boat should not be using alcohol. We also ask that people remember that swimming and using alcohol is very dangerous.
Alcohol reduces inhibition and can mean that swimmers take risks such as swimming out further in the water or staying in too long.
National Safety Council (NSC) statistics show that eight people died from home fireworks-related incidents and 12,000 people required medical attention from injuries in 2017 — half experienced by children and young adults.
Home fireworks cause injuries every year. It’s best to enjoy the fireworks displays of our communities and experts.
At those community fireworks shows, people should remember that babies and toddlers need extra hearing protection.
For those who choose to use consumer fireworks, the NSC says people should:
- Only light legal fireworks on the ground in areas that are fire-resistant.
- Never let young children handle the fireworks.
- Always supervise older kids using fireworks.
- Ensure pets are safe. Dogs are often afraid of the noise and could run away.
- Keep spectators at a safe distance.
- Always wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
- Don’t point fireworks or sparklers at anyone.
- Don’t attempt to relight a “dud.” Instead, put it in a bucket of water for several hours.
- Never use alcohol while lighting fireworks.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher, water hose, or buckets of water nearby.
In Wisconsin, one of our favorite summer pastimes is time outdoors with friends and family — at the lake, at the cabin, ‘up north’ in the woods — also a popular locale for ticks and mosquitoes, which are likely to be found in abundance for anyone watching fireworks from a lakeshore or riverfront.
People who spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly in areas around woods and water, can help prevent mosquito and tick bites by wearing long sleeves and pants. An EPA-registered insect repellent can also help. Carefully follow the directions and recommendations, particularly when it comes to younger kids and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Wearing light-colored clothing can help people more easily see and remove any ticks that hitchhike. Various types of ticks carry different diseases that can impact people if they’re bitten.
Deer ticks can pose a danger to humans by passing on a bacterium that leads to Lyme disease. Here are some signs and symptoms that can occur within a month after you’ve been infected:
- Rash. From three to 30 days after an infected tick bite, an expanding red area might appear that sometimes clears in the center, forming a bulls-eye pattern. The rash expands slowly over days and can spread to 12 inches (30 centimeters) across. It’s typically not itchy or painful but might feel warm to the touch.
- Other symptoms that can accompany the rash include:
- Body aches
- Neck stiffness
- Swollen lymph nodes
If you find a tick that needs to be removed, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Then pull upward with steady even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause parts to break off and remain in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
The best prevention is not getting bitten. People should carefully check their skin and scalp for ticks after spending time outdoors, and check kids carefully, too.
Heat Stroke and Exhaustion
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can overtake people quickly, particularly when we’re not acclimated to hot weather. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable, yet cause more than 650 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Symptoms of heat exhaustion may appear as:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, and clammy skin
- A fast but weak pulse
- Muscle cramps
- Tiredness or weakness
Untreated heat stroke can lead to damage to the heart, brain, and other organs.
Call 911 if a person appears to be suffering from heat stroke. Take action to cool the person such as with ice packs, or a cold bath.
People are more susceptible to heat stroke or exhaustion if they become dehydrated. Alcohol and caffeine can accelerate dehydration.
Always drink enough water, especially when spending time outside in the summer. When you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
The amount of water someone needs depends on several factors — eight glasses a day for adults is a good goal, but may not be necessary for those who are indoors and not engaging in much physical activity. Those who are playing sports or active in other activities, particularly outdoors in the sun, may need more.
Kids can get dehydrated in the summer heat, especially if they’re not drinking enough fluids while being highly active, and parents should watch for symptoms. Sometimes kids look tired, get irritable, or aren’t eating enough. If the child has diarrhea, vomits more than once, or has dark yellow urine, those can be symptoms of dehydration. The treatment is replacing fluids with small sips of clear drinks like Pedialyte, or giving popsicles or ice chips, as well as providing rest.
Always seek medical attention if a child doesn’t improve or appears severely dehydrated. The child may need IV fluids to help recover.
Should you or someone you know wish to meet with us to review or create an estate and life care plan, please do not hesitate to contact our office for additional information and schedule an appointment with us.
Our best wishes to all for a healthy, safe, and happy Independence Day celebration!!