Summer is heating up and that means more time outside playing sports, having picnics, and going on vacation. Along with all of these activities there are associated risks that you can avoid if you’re aware of them.
Avoid the heat
Whether it’s a tennis match, going for a run, or playing on the beach, getting overheated can cause a heat stroke. When the body gets hotter and hotter, blood gets thicker and you’re at a greater risk of heat stroke. Signs include:
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Rapid pulse
- Throbbing headache
Be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water or sports drinks and find some shade and take plenty of breaks throughout the day.
Living close to the water, it’s important to teach water safety at a very early age. Teach your kids how to swim when they are young. And, it’s critical to install proper fencing around a pool and keep your eyes on the kids when they are playing near water or swimming.
Even if you’re a strong swimmer, you should never swim alone. And, if you’re boating in the open water or kayaking on the river, wearing a life jacket is just as important as wearing your seatbelt when you’re in your car.
We all love our neighborhood gathering or church picnics. There’s lots of good food to enjoy along with the company. However, there’s a greater risk of food poisoning when food is left out in the sun. The basic rule of thumb is to keep hot foods hot and keep cold foods cold. Use separate coolers for cold foods and beverages. You can also use coolers to insulate hot foods (at least temporarily).
Proper cooking temperatures for meat:
- 165° Poultry (whole and ground)
- 160° Ground beef, lamb, veal, or pork; sausages
- 145° Beef steaks, lamb, pork chops, and seafood (and let them rest at that heat for three minutes before serving to get rid of bacteria)
When it’s time to put the food out on tables, it’s important to not leave it out more than a couple of hours. Mayonnaise based foods, like potato salad, deviled eggs, and some pasta salad tend to spoil more quickly than other cold foods. Whatever you’re bringing to the party, be sure to pack an ice tray to keep it colder longer.
Bug Bites and Bee Stings
There seems to be nothing worse than a picnic or other outdoor activity that is filled with nagging bugs. Mosquito bites cause itching, and can transmit West Nile, Zika virus, other viruses. Bee stings are painful, can itch for days and for some they can cause a serious allergic reaction. Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease, so keep them and other bugs away with outdoor citronella-type candles, and keep them off your skin with bug sprays containing DEET.
- The current American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC recommendation for children older than 2 months of age is to use 10% to 30% DEET. DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age.
- The effectiveness is similar for 10% to 30% DEET but the duration of effect varies. Ten percent DEET provides protection for about 2 hours, and 30% protects for about 5 hours. Choose the lowest concentration that will provide the required length of coverage.
If you do get stung, scrape the area to remove the stinger, then use ice to reduce swelling. And apply an antihistamine cream to the affected area. If the reaction is more severe, seek immediate medical attention.
Protecting your skin and eyes from the sun can not only prevent skin cancer, but also prevent damage to your vision. If you must be outside at mid-day, be sure to wear protective clothing like long sleeve SPF 50 clothing and hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, and whenever you have been in water — even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
Equip your First Aid Kit
Whether you are at home or on the road, having a well-equipped first aid kit is good to have on hand to help relieve cuts, pains and insect bites and stings.
- Aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Bandages and adhesive tape
- Antibacterial cream
- Anti-itch cream
- Antihistamine (like Benadryl)
Start your summer off on the right foot and stop by one of our stores and pick up your first aid kit essentials so you have them in case of emergency. Also, write down your emergency contact numbers, including family members, doctors and pharmacy information, and keep them handy if need them.