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SUMMER 2022 SAFETY TIPS
As of June 21, 2022, we are now officially in summer! With the coming of summer, we want to share some pertinent safety tips to help keep you and your family safe. Whether you are on the water, on land, or in your home, here are some special precautions to consider.
According to the Inland Northwest Drowning Prevention Coalition, “Swimming and floating in open waters, such as the Spokane River at higher stream flows, can be hazardous, especially for inexperienced swimmers who don’t use life jackets.”
Their water safety tips include:
- Buddy Up: Always swim with other people.
- Suit Up: Always wear life jackets.
- Know Your Limits: Only swim as far as you can safely get back.
- Know the Water: Don’t enter cold water or very fast-moving water.
- Keep an Eye Out: Actively supervise your children and inexperienced swimmers.
- Throw, Don’t Go: Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.
Did you know that the Spokane County Marine Enforcement Unit regularly patrols the waterways in Spokane County? They offer boating instruction classes. The National Safe Boating Council also encourages safe boating and offers the following safety tips:
- Wear a life jacket.
- Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for your water activity and fits properly.
- Know your state boating laws.
- Take a boating safety course.
- Make sure your boat is prepared.
- Be sure to know your boat’s capacity.
- Check the weather, including the water temperature.
- Dress properly.
- Always file a float plan.
- Always follow navigation rules.
- Don’t drink while you boat.
- Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep in touch.
The risk of wildfires continues to rise throughout the United States, including our area, as we continue to live and develop the wildland-urban interface (WUI). By taking steps around your house and neighborhood, you can make these areas safer from wildfire.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends these ten simple steps to reduce the risk of wildfire in your area:
- Remove debris and other flammable material from the roof, gutters, and on and under the deck of your home.
- Screen areas below decks and porches with 1/8” wire mesh.
- Cover exterior attic and soffit vents with 1/8” wire mesh.
- Enclose eaves.
- Inspect and replace missing shingles or roof tiles.
- Remove debris and other flammable material within the first 5 feet of your home.
- Keep your lawn hydrated (green) and maintained.
- Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet above ground.
- Move construction material, trash, and woodpiles at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Dispose of yard debris.
While many of us many enjoy outdoor, recreational fires during the summer months, they come at a risk, and may be curtailed throughout the summer months due to fire danger conditions or poor air quality. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency lists several requirements for recreational fires:
- Keep it small, not tall. Fires must not exceed 3’ x 2’.
- Fuel it right. Use only approved fuels. The fire cannot be used to dispose of garbage, yard debris, etc.
- Stay clear of structures. Outdoor wood-fueled recreational fires must be a minimum of 25’ away from any structure or combustibles.
- Ask first. Permission from a landowner must be obtained. Check the rules of a homeowner association, rental agreement, etc.
- Mind the ban. Always check current burning conditions before you burn.
- Be a good neighbor. It is never okay to smoke out your neighbors.
The Valley View Fire (Dishman Hills) in 2008, was caused by a rekindled, backyard, recreational fire. It burned over 1,000 acres, 12 homes, 14 outbuildings, and 1 communication site. 2,400 people were evacuated, 1,900 people were notified of pending evacuations, an additional 200 homes were threatened, and 40 more homes were damaged. Within hours, this fire was declared a Federal Disaster.
Summer is the peak time of the year for grill fires! These safety tips will help keep you safe from injury as well as help prevent a fire.
When you set up your grill:
- Make sure to set up and use your grill outside. Grills are not meant to be used inside any building.
- At a minimum, grills should be used at least 10 feet from fencing, deck rails, exterior walls or siding, and away from the eaves of your house, as well as any overhanging tree branches and any other flammable material (sunshades, etc.)
- Be sure that your grill is stable and on a flat/level surface, a safe distance from any games or play areas.
- Before using your gas grill for the first time each year, check for any leaks in the hoses. It’s also a good idea to check the hoses each time you replace the propane tank.
When you light your grill:
- Make sure the grill lid is open before lighting. If your gas grill goes out, turn the grill and gas off. Keep the lid open and wait at least 5 minutes before relighting.
- If you are using charcoal, consider a charcoal chimney starter or electric starter rather than charcoal lighter fluid. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to light a grill.
When cooking on the grill:
- Never leave the grill unattended. Don’t walk away from them when they are lit.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Remember, water is not the way to put out a grease fire.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill. Establish and maintain a 3 foot – safety zone to help keep them safe.
- Keep long sleeves, clothing, and long hair away from the grill. Use long-handled grilling tools.
- Never add charcoal lighter fluid or any other flammable liquid to a fire once it is started.
When done using the grill:
- When you are finished cooking, allow your grill to cool down completely before you put it away.
- When you have finished cooking on a charcoal grill, dispose of cold coals in a metal container, with a lid, and not directly into a garbage can or dumpster. Remember to store that metal container away from the sides of your home or garage or from any other flammable object.
- And when done, shut off a gas grill AND turn off the propane tank.
- Remember to clean your grill after each use to remove grease or fat that can start a fire.
EMS SUMMER SAFETY:
Over 80% of the 9-1-1 calls that Spokane Valley Fire Department responds to are for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). These EMS calls include responses to falls, breathing problems, general sickness, psychiatric problems, and cardiac arrest. Some of the underlying conditions that lead to a 9-1-1 call, may be exacerbated by the hot, summer days.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reminds us that “whatever brings you outside – a bike ride with friends, a jog in the park or just a stroll around the block – it’s important to stay safe when the temperature rises.” Certain heart medications can “exaggerate” the way your body responds to the heat. The AHA recommends talking with your healthcare professional to better understand how to manage your medications. Even if you are not on medications, as people get older, you need to take safeguards in the heat:
- Get off on the right foot. Choose well-ventilated shoes.
- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Add a hat and sunglasses.
- Drink up. Stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of water before, during, and after your activities.
- Take regular breaks. Find some shade or a cool place to rest and hydrate.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Signs of heat exhaustion:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, moist skin, chills
- Dizziness or fainting
- Weak and rapid pulse
- Muscle cramps
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Nausea, vomiting or both
If you experience any of those symptoms, more to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by dousing yourself with cold water and rehydrating. You may need to seek medical attention.
Signs of heat stroke:
- Warm, dry skin with no sweating
- Strong and rapid pulse
- Confusion and/or unconsciousness
- High fever
- Throbbing headaches
- Nausea, vomiting or both
If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
Temple Health addresses special summertime considerations for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. The heat and humidity of summertime, together with higher ozone and pollen can make it more difficult to breathe for some individuals.
Their website mentions the following tips to help you enjoy the summer:
- Know your triggers.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- Be aware of how you feel.
- Be compliant with all of your usual inhaled maintenance medications.
- Keep cool.
- Don’t overexert yourself.
- Watch the weather forecast.
- Dress appropriately for the heat.
- Stay hydrated.
- Control your home’s humidity.
- Follow your COPD or asthma action plan.
SUMMER TRAVEL SAFETY:
During the summer months, many of us may take some time to travel. Whether your travels take you driving down familiar roads or new discoveries, its important to take care of your vehicle before you start your journey. The safety checklist list below is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Air Conditioning: Check A/C performance before traveling. Your A/C has to work hard to keep your car cool.
- Belts and Hoses: Inspect all belts and hoses for bulges, blisters, cracks, or cuts. The high summer temperatures speed up the degradation of belts and hoses.
- Check for Recalls: Check if your vehicle has a critical safety issue that needs to be repaired.
- Tires: Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure. All tires loose air over time. Underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure.
- Cooling System: Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle.
- Fluid Level: Check your vehicle’s oil level periodically. Also check the following fluid levels: brake, automatic transmission/clutch, power steering, and windshield washer.
- Batteries: Have a mechanic check your battery and charging system.
- Lights: Check the headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights. Be sure to check any trailer brake lights as well.
- Wiper Blades: After the winter and spring storms, it may be time to replace the windshield wiper blades. The wiper blades are susceptible to summer heat as well.
- Floor Mats: Improperly installed floor mats may interfere with the use of the accelerator or brake, thus increasing the risk of a crash.
- Seat Belts: Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time.
- Car Seats: All children under the age of 13 should always be properly buckled in the back seat.
- Backing Out/Parking: Before backing out of a driveway or parking spot, walk around your vehicle to check that your path is clear.
Summer is a great chance to spend time outside enjoying activities such as bicycling, skateboarding, riding a scooter, etc. With the increased time you spend outside, the risk of injuries increases as well. As indicated by SafeKids Worldwide, a helmet “… is the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes.” In fact, helmets should be worn for all wheeled sports activities.
Important safety recommendations from Stanford Children’s Health include:
- Helmets should be worn whenever a child is on wheels. This includes bicycles, scooters, sates, rollerblades, and skateboards.
- The helmet must fit properly and be sport specific. Find out more about fitting bike helmets properly at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Set a good example: Adults need to wear helmets too.
Now that you are equipped with several safety tips, it’s time to go out and enjoy your summertime activities!
- Julie Happy