Summer is in full swing, and millions of people are spending more time outdoors than ever before. Pirates, mariners, tourists, and sailors. Swimmers, kayakers, hikers, and bikers. With a world full of creepy, crawly things on land and sea, what’s a pirate to do?
Relax, inhale, take another sip of your Starbucks or your Margarita, and let me remind you of the Dirty Dozen. These are the little spoilers that can pop up at any moment and spoil an otherwise perfect day of fun in the sun. With a little forethought, you can wake up tomorrow refreshed instead of nursing wounds you might well have avoided. Here they are in no particular order.
Rip Tides. Did you know there are over 370,000 drowning deaths a year worldwide? While getting caught in a riptide may seem like a death warrant, it doesn’t have to be. It happens like this. The sandy bottom under your feet is suddenly sucked out from under you, and your whole body is dragged rapidly from the shore. No matter how hard you fight, you are swept farther and farther from shore. It’s hard not to, but remember not to panic. Rip tides are powerful only near the shore and quickly lose their power.
Instead of fighting it, let it carry you out. Then swim a few yards parallel to the shore before attempting to swim back in. Because rip tides are only a few yards wide, you’ll be free of its grasp. To avoid rip tides entirely, pay attention to your surroundings. If lifeguards have posted warnings, heed them. If there are no guards, stay with other swimmers where it’s safe.
Drinking While Boating. Did you know according to United States Coast Guard statistics that alcohol resulted in 228 injuries last year and 91 deaths? No one’s saying you can’t go out on the water and imbibe. Go ahead. Drink enough to satisfy a whole shipload of pirates. Just don’t get behind the wheel. The penalties for drunk boating are the same as they are for drunk driving. Why turn a fun day on the water into a nightmare? Do you really want to end your day sitting in your wet bathing suit in lock-up with Bubba staring at you? For more tips on safe boating, visit http://uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.php
Dehydration. Whether you’re out for a morning jog bearing down on mile thirteen like my daughter Jennifer often does, or standing in line at the waterpark, your body is sweating, and when it’s sweating, it’s losing valuable fluids that control your core temperature. To keep it healthy and happy, you need to drink about three quarts of water or juice a day. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. The more you’re sweating, the more you need to drink. People who weigh more need to drink more. Those who spend a good deal of time in the sun like laborers or sun-worshippers need more fluids.
If you’re feeling lightheaded, get out of the sun, and hydrate. If your urine is dark, you’re already dehydrated. And don’t limit yourself to water. Replace lost electrolytes with drinks like Gatorade and fruit juices. Most importantly, if you feel you are seriously dehydrated, get yourself immediate medical help. It may very well save your life.
Sun burn. Unless you live in a cave, you’ve had a bad sunburn sometime in your life. We associate sun with summer and fun, but it’s no fun when ten or twenty years down the road, you discover your skin has turned to a wrinkly piece of leather that wouldn’t even look good on a fine Italian boot. The longer you expose your skin to the harsh rays of the sun, the greater your chances of developing some type of skin cancer. Over three million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year; of these 76,000 will die if it goes untreated.
I’m not going to tell you to stay out of the sun. That’s silly. Something in our genes craves for sunshine. What I will tell you is limit your exposure between eleven and three in the afternoon. Use lots of sunscreen that protects you from UVB and UVA rays. Fifty or higher isn’t extreme. You’ll still get sun without turning your skin into alligator luggage. Wear a hat. Unless you have a scalp like Blackbeard’s, you can burn. Put extra cream on your nose, the tops of your ears, the back of your hands, and the tops of your feet. For more info from a great site visit: http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/melanoma-guide/skin-cancer?page=5#2 . Also check out http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skin-cancer-facts It’ll probably save your life!!!
Don’t leave kids and pets in the car. This year alone, over a dozen children have died because someone forgot their child was in the backseat of the car. Every year an average of thirty-eight kids die because they were left in a car with windows sealed tight. It’s a nightmare a parent will never live down.
Studies show temperatures in a dark-colored interior car with the windows up easily rise to 140 degrees within 20 minutes. That’s when the outside temperature is 93 degrees. A light colored interior car is almost as bad. Cracking the windows is absolutely useless in keeping temperatures at a safe level, so don’t even try it!
Tie a bright ribbon or a lanyard with your child’s picture around your rearview mirror to remind you of your sacred passenger. Pin your house key to his clothing so you can’t get into the house without him. Whatever you do, have something physical to trigger a reminder that your most precious possession is in the back of your vehicle.
Bicycling and jogging. If you like to jog or bicycle, you should know that in 2014 726 cyclists went out for a bike ride and never came home. There aren’t any statistics for joggers, but you can vastly improve your odds of making it back home if you remember a few basic tips. If you’re out on the road at sunrise, remember so are thousands of drivers on their way to work, and the blinding sun on the horizon makes it difficult for them to see you even if you’re wearing bright green shorts and a dazzling orange top.
Pay attention to traffic around you, stay off busy roads as much as possible, and assume if you’re in the sun you’re invisible. A better choice for joggers and cyclists are designated bicycle paths or local neighborhoods, but even these can be dangerous if a driver is blinded by the sun. Even more startling is the fact that almost half the accidents occur between 3:00 and 9:00 pm.
Want to get up to speed on more safety tips for joggers? Go to https://runningtowardsthefacts.wordpress.com/tag/runner-death/
It can be a dangerous world out there, but armed with a few precautions, you can have more fun than a shipload of pirates with more booty than they know what to do with.
The Uncommon Mariner