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With Memorial Day behind us, summer is officially here for most of us. Schools are out, pools are opening and the weather is heating up.

Often, we get so wrapped up in enjoying the good times that we forget about our safety.

Ever year, it seems we hear stories of an unexpected death taking a loved one's life too soon.

And while accidents can happen at any moment, preparing and following the rules or tips can keep your summer fun from turning tragic.

One of the riskiest summer activities that can lead to serious injuries is swimming. While many adults and children enjoy the water as one way to beat the heat of summer, drowning ranks among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Research shows that formal swimming lessons, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, wearing a life jacket, using the buddy system, and designating an adult to watch young children in the water reduces drowning risk.

The main factors that affect the risk of drowning are lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access, lack of supervision while swimming, failure to wear life jackets, alcohol use and seizure disorders.

An activity many may not see as risky as swimming is riding a bicycle. However, statistics show that most bicycle fatalities occur during the summer months.

While bicyclists are encouraged to go with the flow of traffic and wear proper safety gear, motorists are also encouraged to be aware of cyclists and those on motorized scooters or even motorcycles which can often appear in drivers' blind spots.

Health officials say wearing a helmet when on a bike can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by 85 percent.

For those who just want to enjoy the sunshine minus all the extra activity, health officials say protection against the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is important.

It can take as little as 15 minutes for the sun's rays to damage unprotected skin, even on a cloudy day. Cumulative sun damage can also lead to long-term issues, such as skin cancer.

To avoid a severe burn, sit in the shade, cover up to protect your skin from UV rays, wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes, wear a hat to avoid a sunburn on your scalp and face, and apply a broad spectrum sunscreen often. Sunscreen should be applied liberally 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours or sooner if swimming or sweating.

These simple rules and tips are not to spoil the adventure, but to keep you and your family having fun all summer long.

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