Staying Healthy for Summertime Fun

alivebynatureSun Safety

Some essential safety tips for enjoying summer originally brought to you by AliveByNature!

Shield skin from the sun

Shun direct sunlight between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M., when rays are at peak intensity. Even if the sky is overcast (UV’s can penetrate cloud cover), slather on sunscreen; apply at least a half-hour before going out to give cream a chance to bind to skin. Adults need to use at least one ounce on skin not covered by a bathing suit. Choose an SPF of no less than 15—higher if you are fair skinned, burn easily or will be outdoors for longer than five hours. Reapply every two hours, after you have been perspiring or swimming. For sensitive skin, use lotions that contain titanium dioxide—a sunblock that is not absorbed into skin and is therefore less likely than other products to irritate.
Take special precautions with kids. Even one blistering sunburn in childhood is believed to boost the chance of developing melanoma, an often fatal skin cancer, later in life. Children, especially, should be protected from the sun because exposure during the first 18 years of life does the most to increase risk of skin cancer.

Watch for photosensitivity from medications. Certain ingredients in drugs can leave you more susceptible to severe sunburn, so if you’re on medication, opt for an SPF higher than 15. The juice or oil from certain plants (including lime, lemon, celery, fennel, dill, buttercup, Queen Anne’s lace and rue), perfumes that contain oil of bergamot (a citrus fruit) and some antibacterial soaps can cause a reaction on your skin that can also make you prone to a burn.

Protect Your Eyes

Protect your eyes. Depending on the time of day and location, water can reflect from 10 to 100 percent of ultraviolet B (UVB’s, the sun’s “burning” rays) and cause sun blindness, or a burning of the cornea. To prevent eye damage, glasses coated for 90 to 100 percent full-spectrum UV protection are recommended year-round in sunny or cloudy weather. Look for lenses that list the percentage of protection backed up with approval of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

 Stay cool

On hot days —especially those above 90°—the heat can tax your natural cooling mechanisms, as you rapidly lose body fluids, minerals and salt ID By Cheryl Solimini through perspiration. Heat exhaustion results when the body’s organs, like the heart, become overheated in an attempt to get rid of excess warmth. If heatstroke occurs, body temperature can reach 105°F or higher, which may lead to coma or death.

Pay Close Attention to Young and Elderly!

Young children and the elderly are more susceptible to heatstroke and heat exhaustion. To help prevent both: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to replace lost water; drink at least eight full glasses of liquid a day—more if you’ll be very active. (Avoid alcohol and beverages with caffeine; they prompt fluid loss.) Keep strenuous outdoor activity to a minimum from noon to 4 P.M.—the hottest times of day.

Be Water Wise

Water Accidents

Perform a safe rescue. When trying to rescue a child or adult from water, never put yourself in danger of drowning as well. First, have some one call for emergency help. If the victim is in a pool, lean over the edge and extend your hand. If you can’t reach her, then extend a rope, a towel or a flotation device. As a last resort, get into the pool, and holding on to the side with one hand, offer your other hand or toss a rope or flotation device to the victim. (If the victim is in the ocean, a lake or pond, or the day is windy, toss rope or flotation device past the victim.) If you attempt a swimming rescue in open waters, bring a life preserver or other flotation device Ij for you both to hold on to.

Jellyfish

Avoid jellyfish. If one heads your way, swim in the opposite direction. And be careful when walking on the beach, too. Even a dead jellyfish can sting you if you step on it.

Know About Swimmer’s Ear

Watch for swimmer’s ear. When water doesn’t drain completely from the ear, swimmers and divers may develop an infection from bacteria in a pool or other body of water; children, who spend more time in the water, are especially prone to these ear infections.

To help prevent bacteria from building up in ears when swimming: Before going in the water, insert earplugs or, using an eyedropper, rinse ear canal with an acetic acid solution—a mix of 1 part white vinegar to 50 parts water. To dry the canal after a swim, place a few drops of boric acid solution or rubbing alcohol in ears.

 Outdoor Smarts

Bugs

Don’t get stung. To avoid a bee or wasp sting or bug bite, steer clear of spots where insects swarm: stagnant water, tall grass, blooming gardens and trash receptacles. Store garbage (particularly if fruity or sweet smelling) in tightly covered containers away from well-trafficked areas, like picnic tables and campsites.

• If you’ll be in buggy territory, avoid perfumed beauty products with flowery fragrances, or wearing bright-colored or floral-patterned clothing (dull white and khaki are best). In wooded areas, don a long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into socks to protect you from ticks.

• Use insect repellent. Adults should spray on clothes, lightly on skin. With children 12 and under, spray on clothes only. Most insect repellents are now formulated with DEET, a chemical that repels insects, including ticks. But the Centers for Disease Control cautions against using a product with more than 30 percent DEET since the insecticide can enter the bloodstream through the skin, and high concentrations may lead to seizures or other health problems. So read labels.

• Check your body for ticks. (The majority of ticks are harmless, but some can cause dangerous conditions, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and human granulocytic ehricliosis—HGE—a recently identified tick-borne illness.) Inspect your skin—particularly around the scalp, groin and armpits. Don’t forget to check your pet, too. Be on the lookout for poisonous plants. The more you are exposed to poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, the more likely you are to develop an allergic reaction.

Plant Safety

• Cover up when you’re in areas with undergrowth.

• If you come in contact with a suspect plant (or a pet, child or anyone else who has), immediately scrub with soap and water to remove the plant sap; you may be able to avoid an allergic reaction, and you’ll no longer be contagious.

• Wash contaminated clothes, too. Avoid plant poisonings. The results of plant poisoning can range from an upset stomach to death. Do not eat any wild plants, berries or mushrooms. Just in case, always carry the number of a poison control center with you. Act quickly during a storm. May to September is the season for thunderstorms, and with them come lightning. Luckily, strikes are rarely fatal or cause extensive damage.

Weather Safety

• If skies look threatening, head indoors. During electric storms, you are safest in a steel-framed building or in a car with the all the doors and windows closed.

• Close your umbrella—it could act as a lightning rod.

• If swimming, get out of the water and dry off.

• If you’re caught far from shelter, keep away from trees or other tall objects. Instead, find the lowest, driest point you can reach safely—preferably a ditch or a burrow—and lie facedown until the storm subsides. Don’t feed the animals. An animal will rarely attack unless it is provoked, starving, ill or protecting it’s young.

 Animal Safety

• Teach your children never to go near an animal out in the wild or tempt it with food.

• Do not disturb animals while they are feeding; never, under any circumstance, approach an animal den.

• If camping overnight, keep all food out of tents and as far away from sleeping areas as possible—in a car, or hung off the ground in a tree. Grill safely. Never leave a hot grill unattended. If barbecuing on the beach do not bury live coals after use—they could burn someone’s feet. Instead, let coals cool and then discard in a metal trash can.

Play Safety

Prevent head injuries. Suit up kids in protective gear. Bikers should choose an ANSI- or Snell-approved helmet that fits snugly. More than 85 percent of bicycle-related head injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet. In-line skaters and skateboarders should also don helmets.

Choose clothing to suit the activity. Wear sturdy shoes when hiking or biking, for example; sandals can leave your feet vulnerable to injury.

Treat wounds promptly. (See ‘First-Aid Guide,’ page 53.) Puncture wounds are most susceptible to infection. You may need a tetanus shot if you had one less than five years ago and the cut is more than a half inch deep, jagged or caused by a dirty or rusty implement; or if you had one more than 10 years ago and the cut is extensive but not as deep or contaminated.

 

Posted in: Summer Safety

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