Millions kicked off the unofficial start of summer by heading outside — be it to a backyard barbecue, the pool, the beach or the park — to start making the most out of these sunshiny days.
Having fun is important. It’s great stress-relief, for starters. But while it’s great to unwind after a long week in the office, it’s just as important to be safe.
“Prevention is the key to avoiding accidents or illness while on vacation,” said Jeffrey Pellegrino, PhD, WEMT-B/FF, American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and director of health sciences at Aultman College. “It’s important to know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Know what injuries are life-threatening and understand that small injuries can lead to bigger issues if they are not properly cared for.”
Whatever kind of vacation you plan, sprains and falls are some of the most common misfortunes you may face. In fact, sprains are the most common injury for someone on a cruise, along with contusions and other superficial wounds. Going to the mountains? Falls are the biggest threat, many due to poor decision-making, lack of skill or not being properly prepared. Dehydration is also a danger.
Forewarned is forearmed. The Red Cross has prepared a handy guide that you can turn to if everything goes wrong on your vacation or weekend outing.
Wash liberally with vinegar as soon as possible for at least 30 seconds. If vinegar isn’t available, make a thick mixture of baking soda and water. So if you’re heading to the beach, make sure to pack some vinegar along with your sunblock, towel and sunglasses.
Ideally the first step is to prevent mosquito bites. If not, use an over-the-counter product to reduce the itch and urge to scratch. Gently dabbing a bit of lemon juice also helps kill the itch.
Stay hydrated and take a medication made specifically for someone with tummy woes.
Get out of the sun, cool the area and use topical pain relief medication if needed.
Try to prevent them in the first place. Applying deodorant helps protect your skin from the friction caused by that dreaded combination of slightly sweaty feet and shoes that don’t fit quite right. But if it’s too late and you get a blister, leave it alone and try to protect the area. If you there’s no way to leave the blister alone and you see it might burst, then puncture at the base, clean and protect with a bandage.
Remove the person from the allergen; give them oral antihistamines if needed. If the situation is life-threatening, call 911 and consider the use of epinephrine.
Vacationers should pack appropriate clothing, insect repellant, sunscreen and first aid items. Include soap, tweezers, wound gel, personal medication and items such as fever reducers, fungal creams and pain relievers.
Take a class: Prepare for the unexpected with First Aid/CPR/AED training. Training can give people the skills and confidence to act in an emergency and to save a life. Red Cross offers a variety of online, blended (online content with in-class skills session) and instructor-led classroom training options. Register at redcross.org/takeaclass. A variety of First Aid kits and emergency supplies are available at redcrossstore.org.
Download apps: Download the Red Cross First Aid App for instant access on how to treat common emergencies as well as a hospital locator which is helpful for travelers. The Red Cross Emergency App is a single go-to source for weather alerts and safety tips for everything from a power outage, to a severe thunderstorm, to a hurricane. All Red Cross apps can be downloaded free in app stores by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to redcross.org/apps.
Enjoy your outing or your vacation, but also be ready to tackle the unexpected so your entire experience isn’t completely ruined.
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