From the CEO: Summer Safety

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A colorful drawing of a person in a wheelchair under a green umbrella. The person has short black hair and is smiling, wearing a blue shirt and purple pants. To the left, there is a blue and white electric fan blowing air towards the person. To the right, there is a small potted plant with a drooping purple flower. The background is bright orange with a large red sun and red wavy lines radiating out from it, representing intense heat. The drawing is signed at the bottom with the name "Tan Kuan Aw" and dated "19 July 2022."

Heatwave by Tan Kuan AW

Whether it was because school was out or that the pool was open, I always looked forward to summer as a kid. Too often summer was also the season of scraped knees, poison ivy, and the dreaded first-degree burn from that metal slide roasting in the sun.

I share this to remind all of us when considering summer activities, not just for those with disabilities, to approach summer with both anticipation and caution. Summers are getting hotter. This past one was the hottest on record and this year looks to be even hotter. Let’s review some summer basics to keep everyone safe.

  1. Stay hydrated. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you have waited too long. Water is best. If we all should be drinking 8 glasses of water on a typical day, on a hot and sunny day, that number should be more. Don’t count on accessible public water if you go out. Bring it with you. Sufficient water intake helps avoid urinary tract infections too.
  2. Know your vulnerabilities. Those with Spinal cord injuries or other neurological disabilities may be especially intolerant to heat and unable to cool themselves. Kids may not be able to easily tell you what is happening. Irritability, nausea, dizziness, confusion and increased heart rate can be an early sign of heat stroke. The buddy system works in and out of the water. Keep an eye on each other.
  3. Check on your neighbors. Not everyone has air conditioning, and increasing temperatures outside can push inside temperatures into the dangerous zones. Emergency cooling shelters are available when the temperatures soar. Heat can aggravate chronic pain or cause autoimmune conditions to flare. Extreme use of power may result in rolling brownouts or worse and impact those with an oxygen generator or power wheelchairs.
  4. Avoid the sun. Consider hats, long sleeves, or better, seek shade. Lines will be longer and those minutes in the sun add up. Sunburns can be serious and create blisters and second-degree burns.
  5. But if you are in the sun, use sunblock!
    Get the good stuff and use it regularly. SPF 30 or higher is a must. Application every two hours is recommended if your exposure to the sun is continuous and more frequently if you are sweating. Don’t miss those often-forgotten spots like the part in your hair, the tops of your ears, neck, top of feet and even lips. Apply it 15-30 minutes before going out for peak effectiveness.
  6. Summer activities bring new risks. Pools, hot grills, bon fires, and trip hazards as toys and more scatter a yard. Be alert.

Summer brings us permission to slow down a little and enjoy the longer days of sunlight. The fireflies will be out soon and the light show they bring at night is magical. Laziness is tolerated a little bit more in the summer. Even the summer storms are more likely to be accompanied by rainbows. I hope you are able to enjoy all of its beauty including the peaches, cherries, and watermelon and that you can avoid the mosquitos. To quote Seals and Crofts: “Summer breeze, makes me feel fine.”