Emory offers safety tips

SNELLVILLE - It's summertime and living is easy, with time to spend outside, at the pool or beach, or maybe at summer camp.

But summer is also a time to take extra measures to make sure the fun doesn't lead to a medical emergency.

Earl Grubbs, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at Emory Eastside Medical Center, offers a few key tips for summer safety.

· Heat illness or heat stroke is a common problem when the temperatures begin to rise. Staying hydrated is the key to prevention.

"Heat illness is primarily a dehydration problem," Grubbs said. "When playing or working outdoors in the summer, you should drink plenty of water or other beverages with electrolytes, and if you feel at all overheated, get into the shade or a cool place as quickly as possible. Stay away from caffeinated drinks that are not a good hydrator and also avoid alcohol."

· Water safety measures are also important. Hundreds of people drown every year or have other serious water-related injuries.

"Even great swimmers can drown," Grubbs said. "Never leave a child unattended, and likewise adults are wise to not swim alone. Never dive into a pool unless the water is at least nine feet deep or when the depth or contour of the bottom is unknown."

· Even something as simple as a mosquito or other insect bite can result in serious medical problems. Scratching mosquito bites is never a good idea.

"There are more and more cases of MRSA, a form of staph bacteria that is resistant to antibiotic treatment, in the community. Scratching bug bites can make you or your children more vulnerable to this type of staph infection," Grubbs said. He recommends using bug repellants to avoid the bites in the first place, and use of a topical anti-itch cream when bites do occur.

· Two additional summertime activities, picnics and wheeled sports (bikes, skates, and skateboards), can be a lot of fun, but must be treated with respect. Grubs also warns of food poisoning.

"This is a result of improperly prepared or stored foods, resulting in an unpleasant ending to an otherwise successful picnic," Grubbs said. "Make sure picnic foods are properly prepared and stored."

· Make sure your child wears a helmet when participating in biking or skating activities. The best way for parents to encourage this behavior is to set the right example by wearing theirs.

"The brain is the most delicate organ in our bodies and doesn't tolerate trauma," Grubbs said. "Helmet use saves lives and significantly decreases long-term disability from head injuries."

For more information about programs and services at Emory Eastside Medical Center, call 770-972-7570 or visit emoryeastside.com.