Public Health Week: Safety at play - Protective gear is essential

Safety at play: "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!"

Yes, we have all heard this countless times from well-meaning parents (some of us may have even said it), but how much do we actually take safety into consideration when we are participating in recreational activities? In truth, we probably do not think about safety as much as we should. Luckily, there are some simple steps we can take to help ensure our own personal safety and that of our family and others.

In the spirit of National Public Health Week, themed "Safety is No Accident," consider the following suggestions when getting ready to go out and have fun:

Wear Safety Gear

Wearing appropriate safety gear is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself in the event of an accident. Specialized gear and sport-specific helmets are available for sports ranging from casual bike riding to skiing to bull riding, and everything in between.

However, simply strapping on a helmet or some pads may not be enough. It is also important to make sure that your gear fits correctly and is undamaged at the time of use. Ill-fitting or damaged equipment may not only give you less protection, but may actually make injuries worse in the case of an accident.

Check with coaches, representatives of a sporting goods store, or equipment manufacturers to find out what equipment is required and tips for proper fit. If you suffer an accident while wearing your protective equipment, make sure to inspect it for damage. In some cases, like bicycle helmets, damage may be hard to spot, so a good rule of thumb is to replace the helmet if it is involved in a serious crash.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration plays a major role in sport and recreation safety, particularly in our dry climate. If you feel thirsty, chances are that you are more dehydrated than you may think. Drink water frequently while exercising and be sure to take it with you if you are going to be on the move for any length of time.

For most people, water is a great choice for hydration during exercise, but if you are sweating a great deal or plan to be active for more than one hour, it might be a good idea to consider a sports drink to help with hydration.

Be Visible

If you are participating in a sport like running or cycling that requires you to share the road with automobiles, remember that being visible to motorists can mean the difference between enjoying a fun activity and a trip to the hospital. Be sure to wear bright, visible clothing. Reflective tape is available to add to your clothing or gear, and many manufacturers produce workout gear that has reflective elements. As a pedestrian or cyclist, you may have the right-of-way, but that won't help you if you cannot be seen.

These suggestions are just a few out of many possible ways to improve your safety at play.

• Cortney Bloomer and Valerie Cauhape are with the Carson City Health and Human Services


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