A medical emergency expert offers 10 summer safety tips for enjoying the outdoors | VTX
Planning your list of summer activities? Before you do, Stephanie Lareau, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, says a little common sense and proper preparation will go a long way in keeping your summer plans safe and fun.
1. Wear sunscreen or sun-protective clothing
While important year round, it is very important during the summer to wear sunscreen or sun protective clothing such as shirts and hats when outdoors. Not only are sunburns uncomfortable, but they can also increase the risk of skin cancer and predispose you to heat-related illnesses. With sunscreen it is important to reapply every 2 hours, or more often if in water. About 1 oz, which is a full shot glass is recommended.
2. Check for ticks
Tick-borne diseases are also common during the summer months. It is important to check for ticks after being outdoors, especially in tall grass or wooded areas. To remove ticks, use tweezers and grasp as close to the tick’s head as possible to remove it. Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne illnesses. He may have flu-like symptoms, including muscle pain, joint pain, fever, and a rash. We also see a lot of alpha gal allergy. This causes an allergy to red meat and people often experience an allergy or even anaphylaxis after eating red meat. This comes from the lone star tick which is identifiable by a white spot on the tick’s back.
3. Wear a bike helmet
There is a slight increase in trauma, especially pediatric trauma, during the summer. Make sure children (and adults) wear helmets when riding bikes or using scooters.
4. Take a boating safety course
If you spend time on the lake, consider taking a boating safety course. Also look at the lake watch information for areas where you should not swim. With heavy rains, agricultural and lawn chemicals and animal waste from farms can contaminate the water, making it unsuitable for swimming.
5. Exercise early to avoid the midday heat
Heat-related illnesses are more common during the summer months. Get out early to avoid the midday heat. Wear light-colored, breathable clothing and be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Exercise tolerance can decrease in hot weather, so plan accordingly and increase exercise slowly to help your body acclimate to rising temperatures. Adjust your activities accordingly, on high heat index days consider going swimming or running on a treadmill indoors instead of running outdoors.
6. Stay hydrated while doing chores outside
If you’re working outside during the summer, it’s important to stay well hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your urine looks light to clear yellow. Make sure you have water available and drink it at regular intervals. Take frequent breaks and get out in the sun. If possible, try to get the job done in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are lower. Look at the forecast and try to choose days with not only lower temperatures but a lower heat index, which takes into account both temperatures and humidity. When the humidity is high, sweating is less efficient, making it harder for your body to regulate temperature.
7. Take swimming lessons; wear a life jacket if needed
There is also an increase in drownings during the summer. Make sure you have a designated person to watch children around the water. Make sure children wear properly fitted life jackets in lakes and rivers. This is also the perfect time to enroll children in swimming lessons. If you witness someone drowning, early CPR with rescue breaths is essential to improve the chances of survival while waiting for help to arrive. Consider taking a CPR course.
8. Check water levels before casing
If you plan to float or float down a river, be sure to check the water levels before heading out. Websites such as americanwhitewater.org list the levels. If you are unfamiliar with the levels, consult a local outfitter before heading out. Many fun rivers for tubing at low levels can be very dangerous at high levels and present new hazards. Everyone should wear a life jacket when in motion. Alcohol is also associated with an increased risk of drowning, even in strong swimmers. It is also important to be aware of hazards in waterways like low head dams to avoid boating accidents. Additional danger can come from trees and debris in rivers after storms. Consider taking a water safety course if you enjoy having fun on the rivers.
9. Prepare for longer hikes and outdoor activities
When taking long trips in the summer it is important to have adequate access to water and remember that in hot weather you need more water than usual. If you plan to get water from streams or streams, talk to those who know the area to make sure they don’t run dry. If you do strenuous activities, it may also be important to include electrolyte drinks to avoid exercise-induced hyponatremia. Hyponatremia means low levels of sodium or salt, which can lead to confusion and even seizures.
If you’re on medication for blood pressure, heart problems, or psychiatric conditions, it’s worth talking to your doctor about those medications and your outdoor plans. Certain medications can predispose to heat illness or dehydration. As with any outdoor activity, it also helps to acclimatize to the heat before embarking on ambitious adventures.
It’s also important to have a plan if you get stuck in bad weather. The southeast region typically sees a lot of pop-up storms during the summer. Have a plan to seek shelter and stay dry.
10. Prevent heatstroke
The most serious medical problem related to summer heat is heatstroke. Anytime someone is in the heat and starts to have an altered mental state, that’s heatstroke. An altered mental state can be confusion or an inability to walk properly, this is a medical emergency and potentially fatal. You should call 911 and try to calm the person down. Simple things like spraying them with cool water, immersing them in water (if they’re awake and able to help), and keeping them out of direct sunlight can help while you wait for more help.
In addition to his work in the emergency department at the Carilion Clinic and his teaching at Virginia Tech, Lareau serves on the board of directors of the Wilderness Medicine Society, which helps medical professionals obtain additional emergency education. environmental conditions such as hypothermia, hyperthermia and other external weather-related problems. . More here.
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