As summer heats up and the holiday weekend approaches, it’s important to stay safe at the beach, playing sports, and at the backyard barbecue. The summer months mean that school is out and families are more active, raising the risks of injury. We’ve compiled some summer safety guidelines from the Red Cross and other sources to make sure everyone enjoys all the fun that summer and island life have to offer.
Summer Safety Tips
- Adults should supervise children and new swimmers at all times when at the beach, pool or near any body of water. Especially because our beaches lack lifeguards in the USVI, designate a “water watcher” to actively supervise children and weaker swimmers.
- When boating, always wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
- Download the Red Cross Swim app, sponsored by The ZAC Foundation, for safety tips, kid-friendly videos and activities, and take the free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course.
- Avoid sunburns by wearing an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying every 90 minutes. Stay in the shade as much as possible, in addition to wearing UPF safe clothing (UPF = Ultraviolet Protection Factor) like rash guards whether you are at the beach, on the tennis court, or the golf course. Learn more about Sun Safety and your Skin
- Stay hydrated. The summer heat and humidity cause you to sweat and lose water and electrolytes very quickly. You should try to drink between half an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 ounces of water a day at minimum.
- Bites and Stings – Carry white vinegar in your beach bag in case you encounter jellyfish or sea urchins. Remove any visible tentacles or spines and then generously pour vinegar on the affected skin to neutralize the neurotoxins that cause discomfort. If the sting is severe, it requires immediate medical attention because it can cause muscle spasms, difficulty breathing, and even death. Over the Counter Benadryl can reduce swelling and itching from insect and bee stings. If you or the patient experience severe itching or hives, nausea or vomiting, pale or sweaty skin, or difficulty breathing seek immediate medical attention at Urgent Care or the ER.
- Remember to review the latest COVID-19 pandemic guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with your family.
We hope you don’t need us, but if you do, Plessen’s Urgent Care in Sunny Isles is open seven days a week and treats patients ages two and older. Below are some guidelines for when you should visit Urgent Care vs. the Emergency Room.
When to Seek Urgent Care
While many injuries don’t require a trip to the Emergency Room, still some require a medical assessment. At Plessen Healthcare we like to say that not all urgencies are emergencies. Many injuries can be handled by our experienced, professional staff at Urgent Care. Plessen Urgent Care is here for non-life-threatening injuries.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat/Sun Stroke
- Know the signs. High temperatures and humidity can cause life-threatening illness if untreated. Avoid strenuous activity in high temperatures and drink plenty of fluids. If you or the patient experience heavy sweating, fatigue, excessive thirst, muscle cramps, dark urine, faintness, nausea, and headaches, seek medical attention at Urgent Care.
- When to head to the Emergency Room: Call 911 or head straight to the ER if you or the patient experience temperatures of 103F or higher, vomiting, seizures or unconsciousness. These symptoms can indicate heatstroke which can cause lasting brain damage and be life-threatening.
Tears and Breaks
- With onsite digital x-ray and trained Radiology Technologists on staff, Plessen Urgent Care can handle most broken bones, strains and sprains.
- When to head to the Emergency Room: Bone breaks of the rib, sternum, spine, skull, facial, pelvic, lumbar, and multiple body fractures should be handled at the ER. Additionally, if the bone has protruded the skin or if the patient is disoriented or unconscious.
- Second Degree burns and sunburns can be treated at Urgent Care. These are burns that are red, blistered, swollen, and painful.
- When to head to the Emergency Room: You should proceed directly to the ER for third and fourth degree burns or burns that cover more than 8% of the patient’s body.
- Avoid long waist at the ER and head to Urgent Care with non-life-threatening wounds, minor bites, and cuts or lacerations that have straight edges and may require stitches.
- When to head to the Emergency Room: If a wound won’t stop bleeding or has spurting blood from a vein or artery, or you can see through to muscles and bone, head directly to the ER.
- Unfortunately, summer heat and beach picnics can lead to food spoilage and resulting cases of food poisoning. If you have a stomach bug or suspect food poisoning, head to Urgent Care.
- When to head to the Emergency Room: If the patient has a fever of 101 or higher, severe dehydration, trouble swallowing or blood in their stool, seek treatment at the ER.
- Bumps and blows to the head can be serious, especially in children. Watch for signs of severe headache and nausea. If you or your child experiences these without loss of consciousness, head to Urgent Care immediately.
- When to head to the Emergency Room: If the injured person has lost consciousness, experiences disorientation or vomiting, head straight to the ER.
Whenever in doubt of illness or injury, head to Urgent Care for evaluation. Plessen Urgent Care is open seven days per week: Monday through Friday from 7 am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 2 pm in Sunny Isles on St Croix.