6 Important Summertime Safety Tips

Posted on June 12 2016

School's out for summer!

For many, this means more time with friends and family... picnics, BBQs, and camping on the weekends. It’s also a time when couch-potatoes become active weekend warriors on the days between work weeks. As physical therapists, we encourage everyone to participate in the warm season in a safe and responsible manner. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind…

Summertime Safety Tips:

Picnic Safety. Food poisoning is a sure-fire way to ruin your weekend plans. Here are some ways to keep your food (and body) safe:

  • Keep foods cooler than 40 degrees to prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Make sure foods are cold when placing them into cooler.
  • Separate cooked and raw foods to avoid cross-contamination. If feasible, cut and season meat at home and store in plastic zipbags for easy access and clean up.
  • When possible, pack frozen items on the bottom to help keep other foods cold.
  • Keep beverages in a different cooler than food because the beverage cooler gets opened more frequently which may result in increasing the temperature within the cooler.
  • Pack only what you plan to use. After eating, it’s best to toss leftovers. Chances are many hands have touched the food and it’s better safe than sorry!

Knife Safety. One major risk of any summertime activity is cuts from improper knife use. Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Use appropriate sized knives.
  • Ensure the blade is sharp.
  • Cut only on a stable surface.
  • Never try to catch a falling knife.
  • Always put knives safely away when not in use.
  • Never hold the item while cutting it (bagel cutting is a common cause of ER visits!).

Grilling Safety. When it comes to outdoor cooking, fire and smoke can cause a host of health concerns. Here are some tips to minimize outdoor cooking risks:

  • Select lean cuts of meat to reduce the amount of flammable fats and juices.
  • Flip meat with tongs or spatulas instead of piercing with a fork.
  • Reduce the risk of dangerous food carcinogens from burnt meat by precooking meat at home and rely on the grill to warm and brown before serving.

Sun Safety. By now, most of us know that extreme sun exposure can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, skin cancer, dehydration and sun poisoning. No conversation about summertime safety would be complete without a reminder to wear a hat and sunglasses, drink plenty of water and avoid burning your skin by applying and reapplying sunscreen often.

Water and Boat Safety. Unfortunately, drowning is responsible for more deaths among children aged 1-4 than any other accidental cause. Here are some important safety tips to minimize your risk of drowning and water-related accidents:

  • Always swim with a partner, never swim alone.
  • No matter your age – whenever on a boat, make sure to wear a life vest.
  • Freshen up on CPR – it saves lives when seconds count.
  • Never ingest alcohol or drugs when operating a boat. Alcohol consumption alone contributes to 1 in 5 boating deaths.

Physical Safety. Warm up and stretch before participating in physical activity. Activities like frisbee, volleyball, football, kickball and baseball all require extreme movements. Proper warm-up will help minimize your risks of injury. Too often, our clinic phones ring non-stop on Mondays because patients have pulled muscles, broken bones or are experiencing limited range of motion and discomfort. While we are always here to help with recovery, we encourage proper warm up, stretching and care when participating in any level of physical activity. Here are some tips to help you warm up and stretch safely:

  • Roll shoulders forward and backward 10 times
  • Look left and hold for 5 seconds, repeat on the right. Alternate 5 sets of this simple stretch.
  • Extend left arm up over head and reach as far as comfortably possible, repeat on the right. Alternate 5 times. Pay attention to your comfort and don’t over-extend.
  • Spread knees a little wider than hip distance apart. Bend over and touch your left toe for 5 seconds, then repeat on the right. Alternate 5 times. If you can’t quite reach your toes, that is okay, just reach as far as you are able. (This is a great stretch unless your doctor or therapist have advised against this one).

Of course, there are many more warm-up activities you can do including a 10 minute walk or short bike ride. The key is to allow yourself to breath, use muscles and communicate with your body that “it’s time to play!”

As physical therapists, your safety and mobility is our primary concern. We hope these 6 tips will help keep you safe this summer! However, if you overdo it, we are here to help assist your summertime recovery!



Yours for safe play,

Dr. Patti Hutt
Arvada/YMCA and Lakewood/Carmody





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