5 Keys to a Safe Summer
The days are getting longer, the weather’s warmer, school will be out soon, and children and adults are heading outside for summer fun.
“Summer is a wonderful time for healthy, fun, outdoor activities with friends and family,” says Amy Phillips, one of our OB/GYN doctors at UAMS. “Unfortunately, summer is also the season we see more injuries and conditions in our hospital and clinics. With a few simple precautions, you can avoid a visit to the doctor or emergency room and continue your summer fun.”
Protect Your Skin
Sunburn is painful at any age, and it can cause long-term skin damage. The number one advice for a healthy summer is to wear sunscreen any time you go outside to protect yourself from cancer-causing UV rays from the sun. Even if it’s cloudy, you still need sunscreen. Reapply every two hours or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
If you forget your sunscreen, keep your skin covered as much as possible. If nothing else is available, just sit under your beach towel. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your scalp and face. Sit in the shade. And, avoid long stretches outside between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States. Do you really know what drowning looks like? A typical person struggling to stay afloat does not flail about in the water and scream for help as shown in movies and on television. A drowning person is more likely to remain quiet, unnoticeable and sink silently.
Parents should be aware that children playing in the water usually make noise. When you don’t hear anything, go to them quickly and find out what’s going on.
Inflatable baby pools, bathtubs and even deep buckets that a child could fall into also can be dangerous. When you’re around any type of water, stay within an arm’s reach of a child who can’t swim.
Hydration. Hydration. Hydration.
Remember 2 + 2. Drink two cups of fluids two hours before any activity.
After exercise, drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight you’ve lost during activity. Weigh yourself before and after a workout to find out how much water weight you lose during your normal activities. If you gain weight after exercise you may be drinking too much.
Check your urine to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids. If it's dark, you need to drink more fluids.
Beware the Bite
Most insect bites are harmless and produce only minor symptoms such as itching or burning and swelling at the site of the bite. Poisonous spiders and scorpions may produce more severe symptoms such as:
- Intense pain at the site of the bite
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Muscle spasms
- Abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea
- Fever or chills
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- A spreading wound or tissue death
- Dizziness, impaired speech or convulsions
Seek medical attention for any of these severe signs and symptoms, or if symptoms continue to worsen for more than 24 hours. Clean the bite with soap and water and apply a cool compress over the bite.
Secret to Picnic Fun
The fun of a picnic is soon forgotten if you and your guests get sick from improper food handling. Keep in mind the same rules you use in your kitchen, and you should be safe after your picnic, too.
It’s important to keep food at the proper temperature to prevent bacteria growth. The key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “danger zone” – between 40° F and 140° F – for more than two hours. If the temperature outside is above 90° F, foods are safe in this temperature zone for only one hour. At temperatures between 90° and 140° bacteria grows and spreads much faster.
These tips will help you keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot:
- Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. As you and others open and reopen the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.
- Meat, poultry and seafood may be packed while still frozen so they stay colder longer.
- Keep coolers closed. Once you are at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cooler is opened.
- Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals. This keeps it hot but prevents overcooking.
- Foods like chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
- Wrap hot foods well and keep them in an insulated container until serving.
Summer can be a state of mind and not just a date on the calendar. As May winds down and summer begins in earnest with the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we wish you all the best with your summer fun.
May is Stroke Awareness Month. Women often miss signs of stroke.
Don’t let a stroke beat you or a love one. If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.
- Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the FACE droop?
- Ask the person to raise both ARMS. Does one arm drift downward?
- Check the person’s SPEECH by asking him/ her to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Was the sentence repeated correctly?
If the person shows any of these symptoms, TIME is important. Call 911 or get to the emergency room fast.