Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summertime: Think Safety for the Most Fun

Today's guest post is by Leslie Vandever.

Summer and the great outdoors go together like blue sky and birdsong. Get out there and enjoy it, but make sure you’re prepared to stay safe and healthy. As fun as it can be, summer can also present some unique dangers.

Sunburn: Painful and Dangerous
Of all the cancers, skin cancer is the most common. To protect yourself, practice sun safety:
·         Apply sun screen and lip balm rated at least SPF 30 generously to all exposed skin, including the tips of the ears and backs of the hands. Reapply sun every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
·         Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your scalp, face, ears, and neck.
·         Sunglasses with 100 percent UVA and UVB absorption will protect your eyes and the skin surrounding them.
·         Sunlight is at its most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Avoid prolonged, direct sun exposure during those hours: stay indoors, find shade, or cover skin with protective clothing.
Beat the Heat
When a hot environment overwhelms the body’s temperature control system, heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, can result. The best treatment is prevention:
·         Try to do most of your outdoor work before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
·         If you must be outdoors during the heat of the day, drink at least 8 oz. water or a sports drink—not a sugary soda or alcohol—each hour. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Sports drinks help replace minerals and electrolytes lost during exercise.
·         Know the symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps—and what to do about them should they appear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer an excellent educational webpage on these common but potentially dangerous heat-related illnesses.
·         Wear a wide-brimmed hat, and rest in the shade frequently.
·         Never leave anyone—children, seniors, pets, anyone—in a closed, parked vehicle.
Those Buzzy, Buggy Bugs
Encounters with insects—mainly of the winged variety, like bees, wasps, and mosquitos—are much more likely during the summer. Here are a few tips for dealing with them:
·         First, think prevention. Dump any standing water around your house and yard to prevent mosquito breeding and larvae.
·         Use a mosquito repellent with DEET in it. Perfumed skin lotions will not repel the little buggers. To relieve the itch, use calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.
·         If you know you’re allergic to insect bites or stings, carry an emergency epinephrine kit (prescribed by your doctor). Make sure family members/friends know how to administer it for you. Wear a medical ID bracelet.
·         If a bee stings you, scrape the stinger out with the edge of a credit card. Don’t use tweezers—you might squeeze more venom into the wound. Wash the site of the sting thoroughly, then apply an ice pack for 10 minutes on, 10 off, and repeat as needed. Take an analgesic like Aleve or Motrin for pain. For itching, take an antihistamine or apply a topical anti-itch cream. Watch for any allergic reaction as well as infection over the next several days.
·         To avoid ticks, wear clothing that covers all exposed skin. Tuck trousers into boots. Avoid hiking through brush and tall grass. If you find a tick attached to your body, you’ll need to remove it. Use pointy tweezers, not household tweezers. Disinfect the area around the tick with rubbing alcohol. Place tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Grab the tick’s head (or as close as you can get to the head) with them. Slowly, steadily, pull upward until the tick comes out. Disinfect again. Don’t be concerned if the tick’s head breaks off and remains in the skin. Without the body, there can be no transmissible tick-borne illness.
For more helpful information on staying healthy click here.
Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.
·         Skin Cancer Facts. (2014. March 19) American Cancer Society. Retrieved on May 7, 2014 from
·         Frequently Asked Questions about Extreme Heat. (2012. June 1) Emergency Preparedness and Response. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on May 7, 2014 from
·         Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness. (2012, June 1) Emergency Preparedness and Response. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on May 7, 2014 from
·         Insect Bites or Stings. (2010, Jan. 13) National Institutes of Health. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved on May 7, 2014 from
·          How to Remove a Tick. (n.d.) TickEncounter. University of Rhode Island. Retrieved on May 7, 2014 from

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