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Health officials provide safety tips ahead of Memorial Day

People should remember to remain vigilant about heat, water and fire safety going into Memorial Day weekend.

AUSTIN, Texas — With Memorial Day and warmer temperatures approaching, more Central Texans are spending time outside at pools and lakes and they are barbecuing more.

Kristen Hullum, a trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David's Round Rock Medical Center, is aiming to remind families to remain vigilant about heat, water and fire safety.

According to Hullum, it's important to consider that heat-related illnesses can happen even in temperatures that are not perceived as being particularly hot. 

"So even in the mid 80s or low 90s, when it doesn't necessarily feel that hot to you, but you've been outside for a long period of time or maybe doing some activities that's causing a lot of sweat. So the things to look for are feeling weakness," Hullum said.

Early symptoms of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness and lightheadedness. Hullum said the key is prevention. Try to limit time outdoors during that hottest part of the day and instead go outside early in the morning and later in the evening.

"Make sure that you are hydrating really well, that you're drinking a lot of water to replace the fluid that you're losing in your body through sweat. Even if you don't think that you've been sweating that much, you actually have been more than you think you are. So drink lots of fluids," Hullum said.

It's also important to keep children in mind, and to make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids and applying sunscreen. It's recommended that you wear an SPF at least 30 or higher and reapply it about every two hours.

If outdoor grilling is on the ledger, Hullum said adults should be supervising any children that are around the heat source and an open flame. If there's an open flame and a fire is being built, it's important to know to never use lighter fluid after a flame already exists. 

"There have been lots of burns that have happened in a situation like that. So really just careful supervision, especially around children," Hullum said.

When it comes to setting off fireworks, experts say to give children a sparkler. Also, make sure that they are far away from where an explosive firework is igniting. As for the person setting the fireworks, it's important that they are sober and making good decisions. 

"Fireworks tend to to sometimes not go off exactly when we think they are. So if you think that you've had maybe a dud, don't lean over the firework to check it, because sometimes it could go off in your face. So be really cautious when you go up to the firework and kind of squat down next to it with your head back away to ensure that it is in fact a dud," Hullum said.

Lastly, over the holiday weekend, officials see an increase in motor vehicle crashes. There're going to be more people on the road and there're vastly more people drinking at parties.

"It's really important that you have a plan if you are going to drink at some type of holiday function, please be sure that you have a driver or that you use a rideshare program because we do see an increase in those alcohol related crashes," Hullum said.

The other thing that health care professionals tend to see are boating related incidents. Depending on how the weather is, people are spending time out on the lake during the holiday weekends. It's important that whoever is operating the boat is experienced and understands nautical rules of the lake.

"It's very easy to kind of turn a boat quickly one way or the other to where a passenger can be ejected off of the boat, which makes it all the more important to where a U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejacket," Hullum said.

A approved lifejacket is required for everybody aged 13 and under on a boat.

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