Woman kayaking safely in birmingham

Summer Safety Tips

Jun 26, 2024 Urgent Care Share:

Summer fun is for everyone! We hope that kids and adults alike have the chance to take some time off and spend time outside relaxing and playing.

But whether you’re out on the water, in the woods, or out of town, it’s important to take some basic safety precautions so that your time isn’t cut short by a trip to the urgent care clinic or the ER.

Safety Tip #1: Go with a Buddy

One of the easiest ways to stay safe is by having a buddy with you. Whether you're heading out for a hike, a swim, or just attending a local event, having a friend or family member along makes everything safer and more enjoyable. There’s a lot to be said for the old saying "safety in numbers”: having someone with you can help prevent problems and give you a hand if anything goes wrong.

Accidents can happen to anyone, no matter how experienced they are. Even seasoned hikers can get lost or have an accident, and strong swimmers might face unexpected currents. That’s why you’ll see lifeguards on duty even at the Olympics. They’re not there for show—they’re there because emergencies can happen to anyone.

For example, if you're hiking with a friend and you sprain your ankle, having someone with you means they can help you get back to safety or call for help. Bringing a buddy, going to group events, or sticking to public places is a simple way to enjoy your time and look out for each other.

Safety Tip #2: Be Prepared

Being prepared isn’t just the Scouts’ motto, it’s a key way to stay safe during your summer adventures. One way you can be prepared is by knowing your route. Whether you’re boating or hiking, having a plan and a map can make a big difference. It’s easy to get disoriented, especially if you’re traveling in unfamiliar areas. Make sure you know where you're going, and let someone else know your plan too.

Always check the weather before you head out. No one wants to be caught in severe weather, and conditions can change quickly – especially during the summer in Alabama. Knowing the forecast and having a severe weather plan can keep you safe. Pack the right gear, like rain jackets or extra water, and be ready to change your plans if the weather turns bad.

No matter where you go, having a basic first aid kit can turn a potential disaster into a minor inconvenience. Whether it’s band-aids for blisters or antiseptic wipes for cuts, having a stocked kit and knowing how to use it is essential. Additionally, learning CPR can be a lifesaver—literally. Getting certified gives you the skills to help in emergencies, making your adventures safer for everyone.

Safety Tip #3: Wear Appropriate Safety Gear

Having (and using) the right safety gear can keep you out of the urgent care clinic this summer. If you’re out on the water, you need to have a life jacket. Life jackets aren’t just for kids. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, wearing a life jacket during boating, kayaking, or other water activities is crucial. Having a life jacket on board can be a lifesaver in emergencies. As an added bonus, they can allow you to relax and enjoy floating in the lake without worry.

Helmets are essential for biking, skateboarding, or engaging in any activity on wheels. Helmets are also vital for horseback riding. Head injuries can happen to anyone – not just kids. By wearing a helmet, you protect yourself and set a positive example for the younger ones.

Other gear, such as shoes, sunglasses, and hats, are other important tools that can keep you safe this summer. Hiking requires supportive shoes with good traction to prevent slips, falls, and ankle injuries. Sunglasses give great UV protection, and hats shield your face and scalp from the sun. Make sure your gear matches your activity so that you can stay safe and comfortable.

Safety Tip #4: Stay Hydrated

It’s hot in Alabama. Hydration is always important, but it’s especially important in the heat when you’re playing or working outside. It’s not just about drinking 64 ounces of water a day; you need 16 to 32 ounces every hour when you're outside in the heat. That adds up quickly! Instead of chugging, take frequent sips to help your body absorb the water more effectively, keeping you hydrated and refreshed.

If you're eating regularly, you’re likely getting enough electrolytes. However, during intense activities like an ultimate frisbee game or your kids' swim meet, you might not be eating enough. In these situations, replace lost electrolytes with a sports drink or liquid IV powder to maintain your energy and balance.

Be aware of the signs of heat illness and exhaustion, which include dizziness, nausea, excessive sweating, rapid pulse, and muscle cramps. If you notice any of these symptoms, get to a cooler place, hydrate, and rest.

Safety Tip #5: Know your Limits

Limits are human, and knowing your own limits (and obeying those that are posted) are key to keeping yourself safe this summer. Match your activity to your ability level. If you haven’t hiked in years, now's not the time to tackle a six-mile trek uphill in the Alabama heat. Similarly, if you’re not a confident swimmer, stick to shallower water, bring a float, or wear a life jacket. Recognize that your ability might change mid-activity, so be willing to turn back or stop if you feel tired or unwell.

Beach flags are there for your safety and should be taken seriously. Red flags indicate hazardous conditions, while double red flags mean the water is closed to the public. Purple flags signal the presence of dangerous marine life. Paying attention to these flags can help you avoid risks and ensure a safe day at the beach.

Always stay on designated trails during your outdoor adventures. Staying on the trail helps you avoid hazardous footing and dangerous animals, and it prevents you from getting lost. Plus, sticking to the path helps protect the environment, allowing everyone to enjoy nature safely and responsibly.

Safety Tip #6: Avoid Alcohol

Although a cold adult beverage is a popular way to unwind in the summertime, it may make staying safe more challenging. First, alcohol impairs judgment, making it easier to make poor decisions, especially when around water or vehicles. This is particularly risky if you’re at the lake, where both are often present.

Additionally, alcohol can dehydrate you, exacerbating the effects of heat and making it harder to stay hydrated. It increases urine production, which leads to the loss of fluids and essential electrolytes from your body. Alcohol also inhibits the release of the hormone vasopressin, which helps your body retain water. This can lead to heat-related illnesses more quickly, putting you at risk for serious health issues.

Lastly, if you’re responsible for supervising children, alcohol can significantly impair your ability to keep a close watch on them, increasing the risk of accidents. Children need attentive supervision, especially around water and in busy outdoor areas. Staying sober ensures you remain alert, clear-headed, and ready to handle any situation that arises, keeping you and those around you safe.

All of us here at MedHelp hope that our patients and friends have a safe and healthy summer. But if you do find yourself sick or injured, we’re here for you. No appointment is required for urgent care visits.

Open All Summer

MedHelp urgent care clinics in Birmingham are open seven days a week to treat all of your summer illnesses and injuries. Walk-ins are always welcome for urgent care visits.