Summer Health Risks: Fun in the Sun or Danger Alert?

When summer comes, it is easy to think of carefree days, family picnics, vacations, and outdoor fun; but summer health risks are everywhere, waiting to create some not so pleasant memories of late night trips to the emergency room.

With a little preparation and a lot of common sense, summer can be safe and worry free.

Health Risks from the Sun

To begin, let’s consider the summer health risk common to all of us and the various problems it can cause: Of course I’m talking about THE SUN. People of all ages and all health conditions can be at risk for the following:Dehydration can occur when more water is exiting the cells than is entering.

This occurs when excessive exercise and/or heat exposure are combined with insufficient fluid intake. Dizziness, thirst, weakness, and decreased urination are the symptoms of dehydration. Plain water, and resting away from the heat, is the best treatment. Limit soft drinks and alcohol, and watch for signs of progressing heat illness.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is depleted of water or salt; in water depletion, there is excessive thirst, weakness, headache, dehydration, and dizziness that can lead to fainting. Salt depletion is characterized by weakness, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, and profuse sweating. Treatment is rest in a cool place, preferably air conditioning. Beverages should be given, but no soft drinks or alcohol. A cool bath or shower is good, but no ice bath! Use fans and cool towels; if there is not relive in 30 minutes, watch for signs of heat stroke.

Heat stroke happens when the body temperature reaches 105 degrees or higher. Heat stroke is one of the most dangerous of the summer health risks. There can be difficulty breathing, profuse sweating or no sweating at all, confusion or restlessness and anxiety, red hot skin, nausea and vomiting, and a fast heart rate. Call 911 right away, and get the individual to a cool place, encouraging him to sit up and take fluids and loosen or remove clothing. Apply ice packs to the neck, armpits, and groin, where major blood vessels are. Do not give the victim an ice bath, or aspirin or acetaminophen. Rehydrate with 32 to 64 ounces of fluids over 2 hours, and get that body temperature down!

Picnic Health Risks

Other summer health risks happen as picnic season approaches; eating outdoors encourages many unwelcome guests, such as ants, flies, and worst of all, stinging bees! Closing up trash containers and covering food will discourage the insects. Most stores sell citronella and other effective deterrents. Knowing if anyone present is allergic at your picnic can save a life if a sting occurs’ many people carry an epi-pen in case of emergency. Food poisoning is also an outdoor eating risk. Remember to keep cold food cold and hot food hot, and put away leftovers as soon as possible.

Many Summer Health Risks

The large number of people flocking to the beaches in the summer greatly increases the chances of sunburn; adequate sunscreen will prevent the danger of sun poisoning, skin blistering, or at worst, skin cancer. Drowning is also a summer health risk, and children should always use the buddy system when swimming in a pool or a lake; but there is not substitute for an alert adult supervising and swimming with the kids.

Fireworks, boating accidents, an increase in auto accidents and sports injuries are all part of summer fun, but the incidents can be greatly reduced if common sense is used, and the dangerous activities are left in the hands of the professionals. Water safety and defensive driving courses are offered in most communities; also, most sports have safety equipment. Helmets for baseball and cycling do prevent head injury, and knee and elbow pads protect bones and joings while playing. Spending on safety equipment now saves the medical bills later.

Summer health risks can be avoided, if thoughtful preparation goes into your summer fun plans, so go have fun, and be safe!