Have a Summer Safety Kit? Here’s What You Need This Season

June 23, 2017

Summer is here—and that means swimming, hiking, camping and…injuries. While a medical professional should treat serious injuries, many can be handled on your own if you have the right supplies.

“Every emergency kit should have the basics,” explains Cory Showalter, MD, Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. “This includes bandages or gauze and tape, antibacterial ointment and hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound. Additionally, you should make sure you have working, up-to-date medication, if needed.”

Individuals who suffer from severe allergies or asthma should always make sure that they carry an EpiPen or albuterol inhaler wherever they go. Each have a one-year life span, and asthmatics should periodically check to make sure that there is enough albuterol in their inhaler. These critical medications can save lives, says Dr. Showalter.

For the car, an emergency pair of clothes should be available for every family member. If you are exposed to extreme cold or heat, or become wet, you can change into a clean, dry set of clothing. It should also include travel-sized soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, eye drops, and other basic hygiene needs. But in addition to these basics, you may need additional supplies, depending on the activity.

Swimming Pool

“The most important thing at the pool is proper sunblock,” says Dr. Showalter. “But don’t just apply just once in the morning if you are sweating off all of the sunblock or in the pool all day. Just because the package says it’s waterproof for 80 minutes, if you rub it off with a towel, it all comes off.”

Pool safety is important. Non-slip shoes can prevent slipping and falling on the wet surface around the pool. Neither children nor adults should run on slick surfaces, even with shoes.

Hiking and Camping

When out on a trail or in the woods, it is important to be knowledgeable of your surroundings. There are mosquitoes, poison ivy, poison oak and ticks.

“Pack bug spray,” Dr. Showalter advises. “There is nothing you can do to avoid poison ivy or oak except to wear long sleeve shirts and pants. If you believe you may have touched either one, make sure to wash up with soap and water as soon as you leave the area. And don’t forget, ‘leaves of three let it be’ is the mantra for poison ivy.”

Water is an important necessity for outdoor adventures. Bring enough clean water to keep you hydrated throughout the hike. If it’s too much to carry, make sure that you have access to clean water during your trip.

For outdoor excursions, that your basic emergency kit is available so that dirty scrapes or cuts can be cleaned and bandaged immediately. Add a pair of tweezers to your kit in case of a tick bite.

In case of a sprain or broken bone, bring a bandage, but make sure to seek out medical help as soon as possible to guarantee that the injury isn’t serious.

Traveling Out of the Country

For those who are traveling out of the country, an emergency kit should include TSA-approved items in the proper-sized containers. Your traveling companions should also be knowledgeable of any medical conditions you have.

“You need to speak with your physician prior to travel outside the country so that you can have a working knowledge of your needs,” Dr. Showalter cautions. “For example, you need to understand if you can drink the water in the area you’ll be visiting, make sure you have the proper vaccinations and receive any precautionary medications, such as malaria pills, before you leave. You also want to ensure that you have enough medication to last your entire trip, and that it is safe to bring on the plane.”

When traveling, an emergency kit should also include information about local hospitals, emergency rooms and pharmacies so that you can find what you need quickly, if necessary.

Regardless of the activity, Dr. Showalter recommends adults receive basic CPR training, which can be helpful during any emergency event. With a proper emergency kit and basic CPR knowledge, summer adventures can become easier to enjoy, knowing that you are prepared in case of an emergency.

-- By Gia Miller

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