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This page contains past articles pertaining to keeping your family safe. They include a variety of summer safety tips such as boating safety, home gardening, grilling and picnic tips.

For a list of all archived articles visit our Archived Articles List.


brown bulletpointArchived Summertime Safety Articles




Swim Near A Lifeguard: USLA statistics over a ten year period show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach with lifeguards. USLA has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million (.0000055%).

Learn To Swim: Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age. Children who are not taught when they are very young tend to avoid swim instruction as they age, probably due to embarrassment. Swimming instruction is a crucial step to protecting children from injury or death.

Never Swim Alone: Many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling for assistance from others. At least have someone onshore watching you.

Rip Currents Don't Fight the Current:   These currents are formed by surf and gravity, because once surf pushes water up the slope of the beach, gravity pulls it back. This can create concentrated rivers of water moving offshore. Some people mistakenly call this an undertow, but there is no undercurrent, just an offshore current. If you are caught in a rip current, don't fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety.

Swim Sober: Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Perhaps more importantly, both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.

Leash Your Board: Surfboards and body boards should be used only with a leash. Leashes are usually attached to the board and the ankle or wrist. They are available in most shops where surfboards and body boards are sold or rented. With a leash, the user will not become separated from the floatation device. One additional consideration is a breakaway leash. A few drownings have been attributed to leashes becoming entangled in underwater obstructions. A breakaway leash avoids this problem.

Don't Float Where You Can't Swim: Non-swimmers often use floatation devices, like inflatable rafts, to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown. No one should use a floatation device unless they are able to swim. Use of a leash is not enough because a non-swimmer may panic and be unable to swim back to the floatation device, even with a leash. The only exception is a person wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket.

Life Jackets = Boating Safety: Some 80% of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard or ended up in the water when the boat sank. Children are particularly susceptible to this problem and in many states, children are required to be in lifejackets whenever they are aboard boats.

Don't Dive Headfirst, Protect Your Neck: Serious, lifelong injuries, including paraplegia, occur every year due to diving headfirst into unknown water and striking the bottom. Bodysurfing can result in a serious neck injury when the swimmer's neck strikes the bottom. Check for depth and obstructions before diving, then go in feet first the first time; and use caution while bodysurfing, always extending a hand ahead of you.

At Home, You're the Lifeguard: Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in many states for children age one and two. A major reason for this is home pools, which can be death traps for toddlers. Many of these deaths occur in the few moments it takes a parent to answer a telephone or doorbell. NEVER leave a child alone anywhere near a pool. Make sure it is completely fenced, that the fence is locked, and that there is no access from the home to the pool. Don't let your child or a neighbor's child get into the pool when you're not there.



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Keep the fun on the water coming -- whether it's a fishing boat, a canoe, or a personal watercraft that "floats your boat."

Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness, and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes and the leading cause of death is drowning.

Crash statistics indicate boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters.
Follow these basic safety tips and enjoy Wisconsin's great lakes and rivers with family and friends.

Leave alcohol onshore.

  • Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol's effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise, and vibration.

Use and maintain the right safety equipment.

  • Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard and one approved throwable device for any boat 16 feet and longer. The DNR recommends that everyone wear their lifejackets while on the water.
  • Have a fire extinguisher.
  • Have operable boat lights - Always test boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries. Emergency supplies - Keep on board in a floating pouch: cell phone, maps, flares, and 1st aid kit.
  • Learn about some key equipment to keep you safe:

Be weather wise.

  • Regardless of the season, keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing. If bad weather is approaching, get off the water early to avoid a long waiting line in inclement weather.

Take these steps before getting underway.

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  • Open all hatches and run the blower after you refuel and before getting underway. Sniff for fumes before starting the engine and if you smell fumes, do not start the engine.
  • Check the boat landing for any local regulations that apply. If boating on the Great Lakes or Mississippi River, review the federal regulations for additional requirements.

Loading and unloading your boat.

  • Overloading a boat with gear or passengers will make the boat unstable and increase the risk of capsizing or swamping. Abide by the boats capacity plate which located near the boat operators position.
  • See why it's important not to overload your boat:

Follow navigation and other rules on the water.

  • Never allow passengers to ride on gunwales or seatbacks or outside of protective railings, including the front of a pontoon boat. A sudden turn, stop or start could cause a fall overboard.
  • After leaving the boat launch, maintain slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal distance from the launch.
  • Follow boat traffic rules.



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The best defense is prevention. Here are some prevention tips:

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People who have a mental illness
    • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

If you must be out in the heat:

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour.  A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above), too.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).



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The school year is over, which means that summer vacation is here. For teens, summertime is often split between time home alone, at a job, out with friends, or traveling. It’s important for teens to know that even though their summer schedules may allow for more freedom than their academic schedules, they still need to follow rules and understand that negative choices will continue to bring negative consequences. Share these tips with teens to help them stay safe during their summertime ventures.

Staying safe when home alone

  • Remember not to do anything while home alone that you aren’t allowed to do when your parents are there.
  • If you use the Internet, remember to engage in friendly and legal behavior. Be sure not to cyberbully or download pirated music/videos/software. Do not give any personal information (such as your address or phone number) to anyone you meet online. Never let people you meet online know that you are home alone.
  • Don’t let anyone in your home without a parent’s permission. If something goes wrong while you’re home alone, call a trusted adult or law enforcement officer to help you.

Staying safe at work

  • Be sure not to work alone, especially after hours. Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots or public transportation.
  • Keep your purse, wallet, keys, or other valuables with you at all times or locked in a closet, drawer, or locker. Mark other personal items with your name or initials.
  • Know the exit routes and evacuation plans for your building.

Staying safe with friends

  • Using alcohol or drugs is illegal and dangerous no matter where you are or who you are with. Using tobacco is dangerous, too. Don’t allow yourself to give in to peer pressure or make poor choices.
  • Pay attention to the road when driving with friends. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for teens.
  • Before you leave your house, tell your parent or caregiver where you are going, who you are going to be with, and when you’ll return.

Staying safe when traveling

  • Carry traveler’s checks instead of cash, and record information (serial numbers and item name) of any valuables you take on your vacation (such as cameras or mp3 players). Take a copy of the information with you, and leave one with a family member or trusted adult.
  • Learn about your vacation destination before you arrive; know what sites you want to visit and how to get there using a safe, well-traveled route.
  • Be sure to lock your room at your lodging place, and insist that everyone carry his or her key when outside the room. Remember not to give out your room number or invite strangers into your room.



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Have a Smart and Safe Summer!
By: Tracey Brand, RD, Creative Services - Froedtert Health

Here in Wisconsin, we wait all year for summer to arrive so we can get outdoors.  But, as the summer heats up, taking a few simple precautions can keep us safe and make our lives more enjoyable.  Here are some summer tips on protecting your skin, managing bug bites, keeping your food safe and staying hydrated. 

Skin Savvy

A nice summer tan might look good, but it is dangerous.  In the United States, one person dies from melanoma (skin cancer) every 68 minutes. In as little as 15 minutes, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin.  Follow these tips to protect your skin:

  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside – even on cloudy days
  • Put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin
  • Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays.  Higher numbers indicate more protection.  Use a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Look for shade during peak sun (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses and clothing to protect exposed skin
  • Look for an expiration date on your sunscreen to ensure its current
  • Use a lip balm rated spf 15 or higher. Lips need protection too!!
  • Examine your skin on a regular basis. Any mole that changes shape/color/size, any sore that doesn't heal, or any persistent patch of irritated skin or small growth may be a sign of cancer and needs to be professionally evaluated.
  • Sunburn blisters are second degree burns – see a doctor. Remember that sunburns can look mild at first, but over a period of time, they can progress to the blister stage.

Bug Bites

Insect stings often cause minor swelling, redness, pain and itching.  Most bites and stings will heal on their own without a visit to the doctor.  There are several things you can do to relieve the pain and itching and prevent infection from a bite or sting.

  • After you are stung, move away from the insect – bees will alert other bees, making them more likely to sting.
  • Remain calm – movement will increase the spread of venom in your bloodstream.
  • Remove the stinger as soon as possible.  In less than 20 seconds after a sting, 90 percent of the venom is injected into your body.  You can pinch it or scrape it out.
  • Apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes once per hour for the first 6 hours.
  • When not using the ice, keep a cool, wet cloth on the bite or sting up to six hours.
  • Try a nonprescription medicine for the relief of itching, redness and swelling.  Antihistamines (Benadryl) may help relieve the symptoms – check with your doctor before giving this to kids.
  • A spray of local anesthetic containing benzocaine may help relieve pain.
  • Hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion applied to the skin may help relieve itching and redness.

Food Safety

Summer is a favorite time to be outdoors with friends and family at picnics, festivals and get-togethers.  Most of these social events include an abundance of appetizing food but also increased risk for foodborne illnesses due to food sitting out in hot, humid conditions.  Foodborne illness usually results in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever caused by bacteria that are lurking on foods and dining surfaces.  Symptoms can range from fairly mild to quite severe.  Take these safety steps to prevent getting sick:

  • Keep cold food stored at 40 degrees F or below to prevent the growth of bacteria.  Use a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs and limit the number of times you open the cooler.  A full cooler will maintain its temperature longer than a partially filled one.
  • Wash hands before preparing any of the food and before eating the food.
  • Keep raw meat, seafood and poultry wrapped securely to keep juices from contaminating other foods.
  • Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables before packing and eating.
  • Pack drinks and foods in separate coolers.  That way warm air will not reach the perishables each time someone grabs a beverage.
  • Two hours is the limit of time perishable food should sit out in temperatures between 40-90 degrees.  If the temperature is above 90 degrees, food should not sit out for more than one hour.  Discard any food that has been left out longer than this.
  • To help maintain a safe temperature, place foods on ice or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

Staying Hydrated

Whether walking outside, playing basketball, or lounging poolside, it is essential to consume plenty of water during summer heat waves.  During higher temperatures our bodies require more fluids to compensate.  The effects of dehydration are progressive: thirst, then fatigue, next weakness, followed by delirium.  It is important to pay attention to signals of water loss and minimize the risk by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day.  Try these:

  • Drink 8-12 ounces of water per day.  Add one cup for each hour of activity.
  • Drink decaffeinated beverages (caffeine acts as a diuretic and causes more fluid loss)
  • Drink unsweetened flavored waters
  • Drink milk
  • Drink fruit juices (dilute with water for best result)
  • Drink sports drinks if vigorous exercise for more than one hour
  • Avoid alcohol (also a diuretic and promotes fluid loss)


The best way to deal with any of these summertime hazards is to prevent injury in the first place. Enjoy summer but be safe and smart about it.



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This is the time to enjoy a picnic with family and friends.  However, if picnic foods are not handled safely, they can cause foodborne illness. To prevent illness, follow these simple tips:

Prepare food safely

  • Wash hands before handling food and use clean utensils and containers.
  • Do not prepare foods more than one day before your picnic unless it is to be frozen.
  • Mayonnaise-based foods need to be kept cold. Mayonnaise alone is too acidic for bacteria to grow in it. However, when mayonnaise is mixed with other foods, bacteria can grow if this mixture is kept too warm.
  • Cut melons need to be kept cold. Melons, such as watermelons and cantaloupe, can cause foodborne illness. Bacteria, such as Salmonella and Shigella, are often present on the rind. Wash melons thoroughly before cutting, then promptly refrigerate cut pieces.

Packing for safety

  • Keep cold food at 40ºF or colder to prevent bacterial growth. Never just set containers of food on top of ice.
  • The trunk of your car can reach temperatures of 150ºF so it is best to transport coolers in the passenger area of the car. When you arrive at the picnic site, put a blanket over the cooler and place it in the shade to maintain cold temperatures.
  • Keep hot foods at 140ºF or hotter to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Take-out foods or foods cooked just before being transported to the picnic can be carried hot. Wrap hot food in towels, then newspaper, and place inside a box or heavy paper bag.
  • If you cannot keep cold food cold and hot food hot, take foods that do not need temperature control:
  • peanut butter sandwiches
  • dried fruit, nuts, unpeeled fresh fruit -- apples, oranges, bananas
  • jelly sandwiches
  • unopened cans of food, meat, fish or fruit
  • cookies and cakes
  • crackers
  • Wash your hands often. Pack moist towelettes if you think your picnic site might not have hand washing facilities available.
  • Pack plenty of utensils and dishware. Never use the utensils and dishware that have touched raw foods, such as meat, fish and poultry, to store cooked foods. Because proper washing might be difficult at a picnic, pack extra plates and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. Better yet, consider using disposable plates.

Cooking food at the picnic

  • Wash hands before handling food and use clean utensils and containers.
  • Thoroughly cook food all at one time. Never partially cook food, let it sit, then finish cooking it later. All bacteria is not destroyed by cooking, so reheating the food later will not make it safe.
  • Whether cooking indoors or outside on a grill, meat and poultry must be cooked thoroughly to ensure that harmful bacteria are destroyed. Grill raw poultry until the juices run clear and there is no pink close to the bone. Hamburgers should not be pink in the center.


  • Keep cold foods cold while serving the meal. Do not let cold foods sit out for more than one hour.
  • Keep hot foods hot while serving the meal. Cooked foods are just as perishable as raw foods, so once grilled foods are cooked do not let them sit out for more than one hour.
  • Prevent contamination. Keep foods covered to prevent contamination by insects. Many insects can carry harmful bacteria and viruses on their bodies.

Handling leftovers

  • If your picnic food has not been sitting out for more than an hour, repack it into the cooler.  If the food has been out for more than an hour – throw it out. The more time that food has been sitting at unsafe temperatures, the more likely harmful bacteria has grown.
  • Cold foods kept in a cooler that still has ice may be safe. If the ice is melted, throw out the food. Cold water cannot keep foods cold enough to be safe.



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In the United States, lightning kills 300 people and injures 80 on average, each year. All thunderstorms produce lightning and all have the potential for danger. Those dangers can include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfires and flash flooding, which is responsible for more fatalities than any other thunderstorm-related hazard.

Lightning's risk to individuals and property is increased because of its unpredictability, which emphasizes the importance of preparedness.  Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.

Before Thunderstorm and Lightning

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

During Thunderstorms and Lightning

If thunderstorm and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging.  Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

After a Thunderstorm or Lightning Strike

If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.

After the storm passes remember to:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

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Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office  makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. Last Revised: 08/13