For many, summertime is the best time of the year. It’s a time when families have a new routine, kids are out of school, and hours are spent outdoors in the sun. As the temperatures rise and schedules change, it is important to keep the following safety tips in mind so that you can enjoy your summer without accidents or injuries:
- Practice sun safety. When it comes to protecting yourself from the sun, sunscreen plays an important role. Studies have shown that people often underestimate how much sunscreen they should be using. Follow the instructions on the bottle and reapply frequently to avoid burns. Wearing a hat and/or sunglasses is another great way to prevent UV damage.
- Bugs are one of the few annoyances of summer weather. Insects, such as mosquitoes and bees, can be harmful. Use insect repellent to guard against ticks and mosquitoes.
- Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and limiting your time outside to prevent heat stress or heatstroke. Drinking water before and after outside activity, as well as every 15 to 20 minutes while outside, is a great way to stay hydrated.
- Follow food safety guidelines. Foodborne illnesses increase in the summer because bacteria grow faster in warmer temperatures. On top of that, more people are eating and preparing food outdoors, at picnics and barbeques, where refrigeration and places to wash hands are not as accessible. To prevent foodborne illness, wash your hands before preparing or serving food, never cross-contaminate raw meat and other foods, and stay on top of food that needs to be kept cool.
- Don’t be a distracted driver. With summer comes an increased amount of traveling. Make sure you pay attention to the road when you’re driving to keep those around you safe. Always buckle up and pull over if you’re feeling tired.
- If you enjoy cycling, skateboarding, or rollerblading, make sure you’re wearing the proper protection.
- If you’re planning on hiking this summer, try hiking with a partner. Experiencing an injury alone makes it difficult to get the help you may need.
Heat-related emergencies occur when a person’s body is unable to cool itself through sweating and heat loss in the air. It is most common when an individual becomes dehydrated and there are high temperatures with high humidity and no breeze. It’s key to recognize heat-related emergencies and treat them before they become life-threatening. There are 3 types of heat-related emergencies, each one progressively worse.
- Heat Cramps: Painful muscle cramps in the abdomen, arms, or legs that usually appear during strenuous activity. To treat cramps, stop the activity and move to a cool location. Try drinking water and gently stretch the cramping muscles.
- Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is accompanied by sweating, extreme thirst, cool skin, weakness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and muscle cramps. This emergency often develops when you ignore early signs of heat cramps and can worsen quickly. To treat, stop the activity, and lie down in a cool location. Remove your clothing and try to cool down your body using cool water, cool water spray, or a fan.
- Heatstroke: When heatstroke occurs, the body can no longer control its temperature which results in a rapidly increasing body temperature. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency. If you are experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- High body temperature
- Dry or moist, flushed skin
- Confusion and dizziness
- Slurred speech
- Seizures or severe headaches
- Fast breathing
If you or one of your loved ones has experienced an injury this summer, don’t hesitate to give Santiam Hospital & Clinics a call or visit our Emergency Department. Summer should be an enjoyable and active time in your life, don’t let injury or illness slow you down!