Avoid Summer Bummers: 6 Tips for Outdoor Safety
As summer approaches, spending more and more time outdoors offers great health benefits; however, there are always dangers to watch out for. Joanne Ownbey, MSN, FNP-C, of Sicklerville Primary Care, shares the following helpful tips for how to stay safe and healthy this season!
Stay safe in the sun: Sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, should be reapplied every half hour. Proper outerwear, including hats, is also essential, especially for babies. Avoid loosely knit clothing, as it provides little UV ray protection. If you do burn, make sure to stay in the shade and keep hydrated. To help reduce inflammation and soothe pain, take either acetaminophen or ibuprofen and apply a topical treatment, such as aloe vera. If you become lightheaded – or faint – and can no longer drink water, seek medical attention immediately.
Stay safe in the heat: If your body temperature rises too high, you may be at risk for heat stroke. To prevent this, make sure you drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. You should not substitute this for caffeinated or electrolyte-filled beverages. It also helps to wear loose clothing. Common symptoms of heat stroke include increased heart rate, headache (or fever), nausea, altered mental state, and dryness rather than sweating. If symptoms worsen and last more than an hour, seek medical attention immediately.
Stay safe while you eat: Any dairy products or cut fruit should be kept on ice. When grilling, make sure everything is cooked to the correct temperature, and don’t place cooked meat on plates that held raw meat. With chicken, it’s important not to wash it, as this will spread the germs everywhere. Common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mild cases of food poisoning typically pass with rest and plenty of hydration; however, if symptoms worsen or your stool becomes bloody, seek medical attention immediately.
Stay safe from “creepy-crawlies”: If you’re going to hike or be in a woodsy area, you can prevent ticks by wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts, pants, and socks (to close loose openings, wrap rubber bands around your ankles and wrists). In order for ticks to transmit Lyme disease, they have to be attached for more than 12 hours. If you do a full body check at least once or twice a day, you’re likely to catch anything before it becomes dangerous. To prevent other bug bites, there are various natural repellents to try. Typical treatments are hydrocortisone or calamine lotion to relieve itching and reduce inflammation.
Stay safe in water: It’s never a good idea to swim alone, regardless of age. Always use the buddy system. If there are children in the pool, I recommend that two adults supervise, in case one of them becomes distracted. Flotation devices are well and good, but shouldn’t be the sole protection for a child. It’s also important to make sure doors and gates are locked or alarmed, so a child can’t sneak their way in.
Stay safe at work and at play: Children tend to fall outside and get cuts and scrapes. It’s a fact of life. Just be sure that they’re thoroughly cleaned and treated with antibiotic ointment. If the cut appears deep, seek medical attention to inquire about stitches. Adults sometimes forget they can get hurt outside as well, especially when they’re rushing to get yardwork done. If you’ve been more or less sedentary throughout the winter and cooler part of spring, you should warm up and stretch before gardening, mowing, or weed-whacking to avoid musculoskeletal injuries.