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Summer Safety Preparation

By Rejeana Woolum-Napier posted 14 days ago

  

Summer is nearly upon us. The sun is shining, the weather is warm, flowers are blooming, and school is out. Summer is a great time for outdoor activities, like going for walks, doing yard work, or even preparing the garden. These activities are a great way to reduce stress, but we need to keep in mind some of the hazards summer can bring especially the heat and sun.

Heat and the sun are two hazards we may not think about when we go outside. Many times, we just want to get out of the house and enjoy the day overlooking some of the steps to protect ourselves. Before we decide on any outdoor plans, let’s take a look at some of the different types of heat and sun exposure and how we can protect ourselves.


Heat stress

  • Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms in the arms, legs, or intestines that are caused by losing salt while sweating.
    What to do: Cool down and drink water, clear juice, or a sports drink that contains electrolytes.
  • Fainting may be a problem in the heat, especially if you spend a lot of time standing in one place.
    What to do: A brief period of lying down usually helps. Also moving around, rather than standing still, reduces the risk of fainting in the heat.
  • Heat exhaustion can make you feel weak and possibly dizzy and/or nauseous. Other symptoms include chills, clammy skin, and profuse sweating.
    What to do: Rest in a cool spot, preferably with feet slightly elevated, and drink plenty of fluids. If your condition doesn’t improve, seek medical attention. Also take it easy for a few days following an incident and reduce your pace of activity - especially if excessive heat continues to be a factor.
  • Heatstroke is life-threatening. Emergency medical attention is required. A victim of heat stroke stops sweating, causing the body to overheat. Symptoms include hot and flushed skin, poor coordination, and confusion, possibly followed by loss of consciousness.
    What to do: While waiting for the EMTs to arrive, move the victim to a cool place, sponge with cold water, apply ice packs or cold drink cans, or immerse in cold water. Offer drinking water only if the person is conscious.


Protection from the sun and ultraviolet (UV) rays is important during the summer but can affect us year-round. UV rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps, are damaging to skin cells, and exposure to UV lights can cause skin cancers. The UV Index (https://www.epa.gov/enviro/uv-index-search) forecasts the strength of UV rays each day. If the UV index is 3 or higher in your area, protect your skin from too much exposure to the sun. Keep in mind, UV rays can reach you on cloudy and cool days, and can reflect off surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. In the continental United States, UV rays tend to be strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daylight saving time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time).

Per the CDC (via CDC NIOSH) we can take the steps below to protect ourselves from the sun.

Sunscreen

  • Be sure to wear a broad spectrum that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has a minimum SPF of 15.
  • Sunscreen works best when used with other options such as clothes or shade.
  • Sunscreen should not be used for babies under 6 months, the best option is protective clothing.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied often, at least every 2 hours or after sweating, swimming, or toweling off.
  • Be sure to check the expiration dates. If it does not have a date, dispose of it after three years.


Clothing and sunglasses

  • Always wear clothing that completely covers the skin, like long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and skirts. If not practical, try a t-shirt or a beach cover-up.
  • Wet t-shirts offer much less protection than light-colored clothes. The darker the clothes, the better protection.
  • If you wear a hat, be sure the brim covers your ears and the back of your neck. Use sunscreen to protect the rest.
  • Hats with tighter woven material offer better protection than hats made of straw.
  • Most sunglasses sold in the United States offer protection from UVA and UVB rays, which is key to protecting the eyes.


Shade

  • There are many options to shade yourself from the sun including, trees, shelters, and umbrellas.
  • Using shade along with sunscreen and clothing offers the greatest protection.


Whether you are outdoors working, visiting friends or family, or taking a long-needed vacation, take a moment to review the simple steps to protect you and your family and the summer will be much more enjoyable.

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