Amidst summer fun, take precautions

By: Dr. Robert Oldham
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I recently took my family to the beach while on vacation and my daughter was enjoying herself out on a raft. It was a slightly windy day but we weren’t concerned at all, especially because she’s a strong swimmer who is on a local swim team and knows her way around the water.

But very quickly, the winds became too strong and she was unable to get back to shore. A lifeguard had to go out and bring her back in. It was a scary moment.

While she was completely fine, it was a sobering reminder that nature can quickly become dangerous. The recent drowning deaths we’ve witnessed in Placer County have been a tragic testament to that.  

Don’t let your guard down.

The river flows are very dangerous this year, due to the wet winter and the resulting snowmelt. It’s more important than ever to keep water safety in mind and swim only in designated areas, and with other people. Wear a lifejacket when boating, and exercise extreme caution around natural bodies of water, especially those you may be unfamiliar with. Watch out for high water, riptides and cold temperatures.

Water safety is just one thing to keep in mind over the next few summer months. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers, and here in Placer County, our rate of malignant melanoma is higher than the state average. Don’t forget your protective clothing or sunscreen - and make sure it’s the broad spectrum variety - before heading outdoors over the next few months. And apply generously: Only a quarter to half of people use enough sunscreen.

Don’t be stingy with the bug spray, either. It’ll help you avoid mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile or Zika. And keep an eye out for ticks - Lyme disease is more common than either West Nile or Zika. If you do fall victim to a tick, you can bag it up and have it tested at our public health lab. Give them a call at (530) 889-7205 to receive instructions.

Finally, watch out for the heat. It’s easy to get dehydrated or allow heat exhaustion to creep up on you. If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, headachy or fatigued, it’s time to take a break from your activity, cool off in the shade and get refreshed with some cold water.

Our region has amazing outdoor offerings, and with just a few precautions, we can all enjoy these activities with minimal risk. Be well, Placer!


Dr. Robert Oldham, is Placer County’s public health officer and lives in Roseville. Contact his office at (530) 889-7141.