Summer Safety Tips

Here are some tips from our MUHC experts on how you and your family can stay safe and get the most out of the summer months.

Summertime means getting outdoors, being active, and enjoying the company of friends and family over a nice BBQ. While the heat and warm weather are loved by many, there are certain precautions that should be taken to stay safe and healthy.

Here are some tips from our MUHC experts on how you and your family can stay safe and get the most out of the summer months.

Bug Safety

Bug Safety

Lyme disease

As Montreal is greeted with warmer weather, Lyme disease is on the rise and health professionals are expecting a record number of infections for the summer.

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of a tick infected with the disease. Ticks get the disease from biting infected small animals, such as mice.

“There is no question that Lyme disease is worsening in the sense that it’s becoming more common in Canada,” Dr. Michael Libman, explains. Watch his interview with CTV here: https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/montreal-specialist-dispenses-advice-for-preventing-lyme-disease-1.3942281

Precautions to take when dealing with ticks according to our Dr. Michael Libman, director of the Centre for Tropical Diseases:

  • Cover up as much as possible when hiking in hotspots
  • Use bug repellant containing DEET – or diethyltoluamide
  • Once at home, do a full body check – and check twice. Ticks can be tiny – bites are usually painless and don’t itch
  • If a tick is present, remove the whole tick using a tweezer

Mosquito bites

Mosquito bites are another common summer nuisance. Some of the ways in which you can minimize your chances of being bitten include:

  • Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate including garbage areas, pools of water, uncovered food and orchards
  • Avoid using scented soaps or perfumes
  • Use bug repellents

 

Sun Safety

Sun Safety

Damage to your skin from the sun — and tanning beds — can happen in just minutes. Short term sun exposure can result in a painful sunburn; long term exposure can result in melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer. According to a Canadian Cancer Statistics Publication, approximately 7,200 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma in 2017, and 1,250 died. * Melanoma is one of a handful of cancers that can be prevented through simple changes in behavior.

Here is how you can prevent the damaging effects of UV rays, according to Dr. Beatrice Wang – Director of the Melanoma clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the MUHC:

  • Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 on an everyday basis when outdoor
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours
  • Use a hat, sunglasses and provide ample coverage for torso and limbs as physical blockers from the sun
  • Avoid direct sun exposure from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Avoid sunburns

 

Eye Health and Safety

While most people understand the importance of sunscreen, the use of sunglasses to prevent eye damage is often overlooked. Here is how you can best protect your eyes according to our Dr. Christian el Hadad, chief resident physician in the Department of Ophthalmology:

  • Wear sunglasses with certified 100% UV protection or UV 400
  • Wear a hat  
  • Wear sunglasses while driving or as a passenger: the windshield can offer up to 90% UV protection but side windows usually offer less protection.
  • Polarized glasses do not offer UV protection: they will not diminish the UV light
  • Avoid staring straight at the sun: this can cause irreparable damage to the eye.

 

Hydration/Dehydration 

While staying hydrated may seem easy, healthy hydration, on the other hand, is not always a given.

Dehydration can set in pretty quickly, especially when the air is as thick and hot. The most common signs of dehydration include urine that is dark yellow colour, feeling tired and irritable, dry lips and mouth, headaches and dizziness. The most severe cases can lead to coma, organ failure and cardiac arrest.

Tips to stay hydrated according to Deborah Fleming, MUHC nutritionist and manager of Clinical Nutrition Services:

  • Drink a glass of water when you wake up each morning 
  • Carry a container of water with you all day and use water fountains  
  • Try to remember to drink water before and during your meals
  • Limit consumption of sweetened beverages such as; soft drinks, sweetened coffees & teas and fruit drinks

Recommended quantity of water to drink in a day:

  • Men: about 3 litres or 12 cups for 19 years and older
  • Women: 2.2 litres or 9 cups

 

Injury and Trauma Prevention

Summer time means more time for outdoor fun, but it is still important to ensure you’re keeping the safety of yourself and others around you in mind.

Injury Prevention Tips according to Tara Grenier, Injury Prevention coordinator for the MGH Trauma Program:

Bike: wear a helmet, stay in the bike lane when possible, and be visible (wear bright clothing) and at night put a white light on the front of the bike and a red light at the back

Construction, renovation: be careful around power poles, wear non-slip footwear

Alcohol: before drinking or a night out, always plan your way home in advance

On boats: wear a safety jacket at all times

Thunderstorms: if you are outside, stay away from trees and power poles, stay at lower heights, and exit lakes, pools, ultimately you should held indoors or into your car with windows closed.

 Barbecues

Barbecues

Barbecue season has now begun! It is probably wise to give your grill a good cleaning before firing it up!

What to use to clean the grill of your barbecue is very important. Pieces of certain steel brushes can easily come off, resulting in people possibly ingesting them and getting stuck in their throat.

“There could be some serious infection as a result of it and it requires surgery to remove,” Dr. Kost explained. View her interview with CTV here: https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/mother-s-day-bbq-curtailed-after-kirkland-woman-gets-brush-bristle-lodged-in-her-throat-1.3932829

Tips to have safe barbecues according to our Dr. Kost, director of the Dysphagia and Voice clinics:

  • Make sure the smoke is not entering your home 
  • Follow the manufacturers’ guidelines on how to ignite your barbecue and make sure its works properly
  • Make sure the grill is kept clean: occasionally take it into a sink and wash it
  • Day to day use: scrape off the residual food
  • When finished cooking, put the grill on very high to burn off any residual food
  • Use wooden type cleaners or a curved wire that you can use to scrape
  • When your grill is cool, you can use a regular kind of scrub brush
  • Never have your face close to the barbecue
  • Watch your food at all times

 

** http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/skin-melanoma/statistics/?region=qc