BATON ROUGE, La. – Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds everyone to keep health and safety in mind as temperatures rise.
The Louisiana Department of Health recently reported an increase in children drowning, emphasizing that it’s important for families to always have children in their sight when they are near water.
“Never, ever leave children unattended around pools, hot tubs or bodies of water, even if they know how to swim or are wearing floaties,” said Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician and Blue Cross medical director. “Have an adult watching them at all times. And, don’t be distracted by scrolling on your phone or reading a book – keep an eye on children. Unfortunately, it only takes moments for a child to drown.”
Keep your family safe by following these water safety tips:
• Make sure family members can swim, meaning they have basic water skills that could save their lives. After jumping or getting into water over their heads, they should be able to return to the surface and float or tread water for more than a minute.
• Use barriers to prevent open access to pools and water, including self-closing and self-latching gates or four-sided fences.
• Take CPR classes –online or in person – to learn or refresh your basic water rescue skills.
• Know when and how to use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, including when boating. Follow all state and local laws for boating and water sports in public waterways.
• When swimming in natural waterways, try not to dunk your head or swallow the water. Storm water and runoff can put bacteria, ameba or other organisms in the water that can make you sick.
• Remember that natural water bodies are home to animals, including poisonous snakes and alligators. Be very careful when diving into water, especially if you cannot see into it clearly. And if you do spot an animal in the water, don’t go near it or touch it.
Heat and Sun Safety
Summertime means longer days with higher temperatures, and it’s important to practice sun safety. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month – this is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), too much exposure to ultraviolet rays causes most cases of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
“The good news is you can lower your risks for skin cancer by wearing sunscreen that’s at least SPF 15 whenever you’re outdoors, even on cloudy or overcast days,” Dr. Lemelle said. “Keep in mind that sunscreen can be water-resistant but it’s never waterproof, and you will need to reapply it after you’ve been in water. Read the directions on your sunscreen to know how often to reapply it for the best protection.”
Other sun safety tips include:
• Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes whenever you’re outdoors
• Putting on baggy, long-sleeved, lightweight clothing to cover skin
• Wearing hats with wide brims to protect your head and neck from sun exposure
“These steps not only guard against skin cancer, they can help you avoid painful sunburns,” Dr. Lemelle said. “Encourage your children to do these things so they develop good sun safety habits at a young age.”
During summer months, it’s also important to make sure family members do not become overheated, especially very young children or older adults whose bodies cannot adjust to higher temperatures as easily, Dr. Lemelle added.
Follow these steps to beat the heat the healthy way:
• Plan outdoor activities like exercising, yard work or gardening in early mornings or evenings, when temperatures are lower
• Drink lots of water, even if you do not feel thirsty – this will keep you hydrated
• Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
• If you will be outdoors, take frequent breaks indoors or in the shade, and use a buddy system to check on each other
• If you have symptoms like dizziness, nausea or vomiting, heavy sweating, rapid pulse or extremely hot skin, get to a cool area and seek medical attention immediately
“And NEVER leave children or pets alone in parked cars – they can overheat and die in a matter of minutes,” Dr. Lemelle said. “Put something you will need to take with you when you get out of the car, like your wallet or your phone, in the backseat with them so you’ll remember to look before you lock.”
For more summer health tips, visit bcbsla.com/Summer or watch Blue Cross’ animated videos on Water Safety (:30) and Sun & Heat Safety (:30).
Follow Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA to see original graphic designs, videos and other messages sharing information about summer health and safety. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on summer health tips and other wellness topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.