Physician talks about having a safe, healthy summer

Summer means fun in the sun, family vacations, backyard barbeques, and refreshing swims in the lake. It’s also a time to take precautions so you don’t become sidelined during all the summer fun.

“Taking a few precautions, especially with the sun during the summer, will help you keep active and healthy during summer activities,” Dr. Christopher Rancont, Alpena Regional Medical Center Emergency Department physician, said.

Remember during the summer, the sun can be damaging to our bodies. While spending time at the beach is fun, it can become a painful experience if you are out in the sun for too long. Overexposure to the sun can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled, and it may also result in sunburns. Your skin is very susceptible to damage from the sun’s UV rays while you are swimming and spending time in the water as well. A bad sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of melanoma later in life, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. To prevent a sunburn:

  • Apply lots of sunscreen when you are outside (SPF 15 50), and wear a hat to block the sun’s heat on your face.
  • Avoid being uncovered outside between 10am and 2pm, when the sun is at its hottest.
  • Babies younger than six months should stay out of the sun. Sunscreen should never be used on infants.
  • If you does get a sunburn (Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches), take a shower and use regular soap to remove oils that may block pores that prevent the body from cooling naturally. If blisters occur, apply dry, sterile dressings and seek medical attention.

As the temperature heats up, don’t forget to drink lots of water. Hydration is especially necessary as temperatures and activity levels rise, because there is a higher risk of heat stroke when exercising during the summer months. “Anybody not accustomed to hot weather is at risk of suffering from heatstroke,” Rancont said. “Especially young kids; children overheat three to five times faster than adults, which makes a hot car lethal in just minutes.”

Cramps and heat exhaustion can result when your body does not have enough water to replace the fluid lost when you perspire. Even if you are not thirsty, you should be sure to drink plenty of water while out in the sun and heat.

If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke (high body temperature, 106+); hot, dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; possible unconsciousness, victim not sweating). Call 911 or emergency medical services or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. Use caution and move the victim to a cooler environment and try a cool bath or sponging to reduce body temperature. Use fans and/or air conditioners. Do not give fluids.

Here are some other ways to safe healthy and safe this summer:

Bike Helmets

* A helmet protects from serious injury and should always be worn, no matter how short or how close to home.

* A helmet should be level on the head and covering the forehead, not tipped forward or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened with about two fingers able to fit between chin and strap. The helmet should be snug on the head, but not overly tight.

Food Safety

* Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

* Use a food thermometer. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 F, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145 F for medium rare or to 160 F for medium. Poultry must reach a temperature of 165 F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.

* It is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature in your cooler.

Boating and Swimming Safety

*Take a boating safety course and learn the boating run

* Always wear a life jacket.

* Avoid alcohol consumption.

* Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!

* Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.

Bugs

* Use insect repellents containing DEET. However, DEET should not be used on children younger than two months of age.

* After coming indoors, shower as soon as possible and check your body for ticks. Wash and tumble dry your clothing and check your pets for ticks. If you find an attached tick, don’t panic, remove them with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Consult your healthcare provider if you develop a rash, fever, body aches, fatigue or headache, stiff neck, disorientation in the 1-3 weeks following a bite.

These are just a few summer safety tips to help you enjoy a safe and healthy summer. For more information about summer safety, contact the ARMC Community Health Education Department at 356-8106.