Summertime safety

20 March 2008

As summer begins, it is a good time to review practical safety guidelines working outdoors

Sun exposure

The sun emits three types of ultraviolet light: UVA, UVB, and UVC. This exposure is unseen energy that causes and contributes to cataract development and skin cancer. One in five Americans develops skin cancer.

To battle the effects of UVA and UVB rays that penetrate the earth's atmosphere use sunscreen, sunglasses, wear protective clothing and avoid exposure when the sun is most intense, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Sunscreen and sunglasses were developed to block the damaging UVA and UVB rays. Broad spectrum sunscreen and wearing sunglasses that filter out UVA and UVB rays are best. Check the manufacturer's label to be sure that sunscreen and sunglasses are effective against these rays.

Heat-related illnesses

When your body core heats up, you begin to sweat. As your sweat evaporates from your skin it takes the body's excess heat with it.

When high temperatures and humidity rises, evaporation rates are reduced hindering the heat removal process. Train your employees to detect the symptoms of heat exhaustion. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, moist skin, mood changes and nausea. The symptoms of heat stroke are dry hot skin, no sweating, seizures, mental confusion, and/or losing consciousness. If a person exhibits these symptoms, you should contact emergency support and dial 911 immediately. Move the person to a cool area, loosen his or her clothing and, if conscious, provide cool water.

Summer storms

Lightning kills an average of 167 people in the United States each year.

Hundreds of Americans are also injured from lightning. Staying aware of changing weather conditions could reduce these numbers.

Flashes of lightning, radio static, increasing winds and cauliflower shaped clouds are signs of an approaching storm. Lightning can strike 10 miles from the storm. If you can hear thunder you are in the strike zone. Seek shelter in a building or a vehicle with a hard top and closed windows. Do not stand under pavilions or partially enclosed structures. Avoid trees, towers, golf courses, telephones, bath tubs, appliances and plumbing fixtures. If you are in a boat, get to land and find a safe structure in which to take cover.


Ticks are blood-feeding external parasites found in wooded areas and tall grass. A tick bite has the potential to expose you to Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Ehrlichiosis. Wear light-colored clothes to better identify ticks and tuck your pant legs into your socks to keep ticks from crawling into your pant leg. Use a chemical repellent containing DEET or Permethrin.

To remove a tick use fine-point tweezers, grasping the tick behind the point of attachment and pulling slowly and steadily until the tick is dislodged. Wash the area, apply antiseptic and cover.


Mosquitoes are blood-feeding insects that act as carriers of West Nile Virus, Malaria, Encephalitis, and Dengue Fever.

Mosquitoes incubate their eggs in stagnant water. Eliminating the incubation area reduces the population. The best defense is to avoid being out during mosquito feeding time, which is just before dawn and around the time of sunset. Chemical and natural insect repellents are available as another defense.

Poison ivy and poison oak

Poison ivy and poison oak are defined by their leaves, which are shiny and clustered in groups of three. The oil urushiol is contained in the leaves, stem and roots. When you come in contact with these plants you may develop contact dermatitis, which is a reaction to the oil in the plant. Exposure can occur by direct contact and indirect contact (touching tools, clothing or animals). If you come in contact with the oil of either plant, wash the exposed area with soap and cold water as soon as possible. Avoid warm water, which opens the skin pores and may increase the exposure. The best defense is to cover exposed skin with clothing and use barrier cream.


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