Best Tips For a Safe Summer
When outdoor fun heats up, protect yourself by following these tips from two local doctors.
Summertime and the living is … hot. Sunburned. Itchy. Without taking some precautions while you’re outside having fun, summer can end up being a real pain.
These tips will help you protect yourself and your loved ones to make 2017 your most enjoyable summer yet.
Be Skin-Safe in the Sun
Most people understand that getting a sunburn isn’t good for them. But many don’t think about how today’s “glow” could have repercussions several years from now. “Getting that suntan today can increase your risk of skin cancer later,” says Michael Wiederkehr, M.D., of the Center for Dermatology & Skin Surgery in Paramus. “If you play now, you might pay later.”
Dr. Wiederkehr recommends that people of all ages take precautions by slathering on a thick coating of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF, or sun protection factor, of at least 45. He added that people should be vigilant about reapplying sunscreen and seek additional ways to protect themselves from the sun’s rays.
“You should reapply at least every two to three hours and after being in water, sweating or toweling off,” says Dr. Wiederkehr, “and to be safe, cover up. Wear a shirt, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. The more areas that are covered, the healthier it is for your skin.
”Also smart? Seeking shade, especially during midday hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Keep Painful—and Potentially Serious—Stings at Bay
Enjoying your backyard during beautiful summer days is great—until you get a painful bee, yellow jacket or hornet sting. And if someone has an allergy to that sting, it can be life-threatening. Stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. So how can you protect yourself and ensure that these pesky stingers won’t ruin your next backyard barbecue?
Seal all cracks and crevices. Stinging insects often build their nests inside small spaces. Also watch under the deck and eaves and behind porch lights.
Keep food covered. Stinging insects are attracted to exposed food and open drinks. Cover all food and drinks when outside and keep tight-fitting lids on garbage cans.
Avoid wearing sweet-smelling fragrances, which stinging insects are attracted to. Also choose unscented shampoo, hairspray, lotion and sunscreen.
Avoid floral prints, which can attract stinging insects, and wear close-toed shoes, as some insects nest in grass.
If someone does get stung, watch for an allergic reaction. “Call 911 if there is difficulty breathing; swelling of lips, tongue, eyelids or throat; dizziness, faintness or confusion; hives; nausea or vomiting,” says Jay Kashkin, M.D., an allergist in Fair Lawn. “If you’re the one who is allergic and epinepherine is required and you are alone, administer it, call 911 and keep as calm as possible.”
Keep Your Cool
While the average temperature here in July and August is 85 degrees, temperatures can soar into the high 90s on some days, and high humidity can make it feel even hotter.
The heat of summer can affect anyone of any age, but certain segments of the population are at higher risk for developing serious complications, like heat stroke, more quickly, say experts. These groups include: the very young; people who are 65 or older; people who are physically ill; those with heart disease or high blood pressure; and people with a mental illness.
Doctors advise that when heat indices are extreme or when heat waves set in, everyone should stay indoors in air conditioning when possible. If you do go outside, avoid strenuous work or exercise, rest often and remember to replenish lost fluids. Don’t wait to drink until you feel thirsty. If you can’t avoid strenuous exercise in the heat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends drinking two to four eight-ounce glasses of cool water each hour, unless your health-care provider recommends differently.
Following our guidelines in these three areas will help to ensure that your summertime living is not only easy, but comfortable, fun and safe.
Recognize Heat Exhaustion
When the body can’t cool itself, heat exhaustion can set in. Unless steps are taken to lower the body’s temperature, heat stroke—a medical emergency—can develop. When temperatures soar, watch for these warning signs in yourself and others.
- Skin that is moist and cool, despite the heat
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Feeling tired
- Heartbeat that is rapid, but weak
- Muscle cramps
If these symptoms occur, find shade or an air-conditioned place; rest or lie down; mist yourself with cool water; and drink water or sports drinks. If symptoms get worse or don’t improve within an hour, seek immediate medical attention.