Thursday, July 5, 2012


Health News

Water Wary

FHA tips to safely get through summer 

Released by Fraser Health Authority


man stands up in his boat, looks around to be sure that he is alone, and urinates over the side of the boat. It's a common occurrence and hard to believe that it's a life-threatening act.


But every year, approximately 225 Canadian men drown when they fall overboard.
This summer, don't let the great outdoors get the better of you. By planning ahead, you can enjoy hours of fun in the sun and live to tell the tale! Whether it's camping with family, going for a bike ride with friends or enjoying a day out on the water, safety and security should always be a priority.

"Summer is a great time for outdoor activities, but it's important to remember that it's easier and faster to prevent an accident or injury than it is to recover from one," says Dr. Gillian Arsenault, a Medical Health Officer at Fraser Health. "By doing your homework and getting your gear and yourself ready for outdoor challenges, you and your family can have a safe and memorable summer."

Hiking and camping

  • Start low and go slow - don't be too ambitious your first few times out. Work up to a more strenuous outing.

  • When hiking and camping, use the right protective gear, including footwear, layered clothing, a GPS and signaling device and be prepared with first aid and emergency survival equipment.

  • Keep your clothes, sleeping bags and important gear dry at all times. Wet clothes and sleeping bags contribute to heat loss.

  • Check the weather forecast before you leave and bring appropriate equipment.

  • Know your route and make sure someone else does too and when to expect you back.

  • Learn what to do about bear and cougar encounters, including the use of bear spray, whistles, and how to keep food away from bears and away from where you are sleeping.

  • Bring emergency supplies including a first-aid kit containing band aids, antiseptics for cuts and scrapes, pain relievers, treatments for food and insect allergies, a map, compass, flashlight, whistle and a knife.

  • Disinfect water taken from lakes, rivers, mountain streams and ponds no matter how clean it looks. When in doubt, boil water for five minutes.

  • Light campfires only when the fire hazard is low and only small fires in designated areas. Be fire wise - campfires and cigarettes that aren't stone cold out can and do start huge forest fires.

  • Don't forget the toilet paper and a shovel when going to areas with appropriate facilities!

Related Links

Biking and boating

  • Make sure all your equipment is in good working order, especially tires and brakes on bicycles and motorcycles.

  • Whether you are motorcycling, biking, skateboarding, or rollerblading, always wear a legally approved helmet and other protective equipment, and ensure good fit and proper use of gear.

  • Make sure you bring enough water and easy-to-carry snacks that will provide plenty of energy and rehydration.

  • When participating in an outdoor activity at dusk or after dark, wear lightly coloured, reflective clothing so you are visible to others. If cycling, use front and rear lights on bikes.

  • When going on trips or off-road, carry a GPS and signaling device as well as first aid and emergency survival gear.

  • Make sure someone knows where you're going and when you expect to be back.

  • When boating, always wear a lifejacket or PFD (personal flotation device) and carry the required safety equipment in your boat.

  • Get licensed - by law, all boaters need proof of operator competency.

  • Get trained - training gives you knowledge to make smart choices when on the water.

  • Keep an eye on the weather - patterns can change quickly and without warning.

  • Avoid alcohol and drug-related injuries. Do not drive boats or vehicles or engage in recreational activities while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Plan for a safe ride home before going out.

Related Links

Safe biking:

Safe boating:

For health related questions or concerns, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or visit, 24 hours a day/seven days a week.

Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health services to the largest and fastest growing population in B.C. The health authority is committed to improving the health of the population and the quality of life of more than 1.6 million people living in communities from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.


Health News

Swim Safe

FHA tips to safely get through summer in the pools and on the beaches

Released by Fraser Health Authority


s the weather shifts to warmer temperatures and we prepare to hit the pools and beaches, it's important that we remember to stay safe in the water.

Swimming is a lot of fun, but drowning is a real danger. Approximately 80 people die every year in British Columbia as a result of drowning. Drowning can happen fast, sometimes in less than 2 minutes after a person's head is under water. Many drownings and near-drownings occur accidentally and accidents can happen anytime.

"Swimming and other water related activities are a great way to stay active throughout the summer," said Marcus Lem, Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health. "However, it's important to be aware of ways to prevent injury, drowning or recreational water-borne illnesses."

Some pools, hot tubs and even lakes can contain bacteria that can make you sick. You should avoid swallowing water or entering the water if you have an open wound or an infection to reduce your risk.

Some beaches in the area may be affected by Swimmer's Itch, which is caused by a waterborne parasite. It can result in a temporary skin rash. Affected beaches will have signs posted advising of the issue and providing information on avoiding the problem. Rest assured - swimmer's itch is considered more of a nuisance than a health hazard.

Fraser Health's environmental health officers inspect, and approve commercial and public pools and hot tubs regularly for public safety. They also monitor recreational beaches during the swimming season. Information on beach advisories and inspection reports can be found at:

Here are some tips to follow to protect yourself and your children:

Swim Safe

  • Never swim alone. Always swim with a buddy.

  • Children require constant supervision around pools. A child can drown in seconds in only a few inches of water.

  • Never swim farther or in deeper water than you can handle.

  • Never dive into unknown water. Underwater objects may appear deeper than they are.

  • If you own a pool, install a fence around the pool with a gate that cannot be opened by a child. Also child proof or lock doors that open directly to a back yard pool area.

  • Learn life saving techniques including artificial respiration at your local community centre or pool.

Pool and Hot Tub Safety

  • Pool water is free of total coliforms and "Pseudomonas" (soo-doh-MOH-nas) bacteria - (Pseudomonas can cause an itchy rash & ear infections).

  • That the operator is maintaining a record of chlorine and pH readings.

  • That there is a first aid kit and a working telephone on site.

  • That the water is not murky or cloudy.

  • That depth markings are visibly marked on the side of the pool.

  • That the physical pool structure is well maintained.

Related Links

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