Summer is here! Along with the sudden urge to be care free comes a lengthy list of health hazards — some self-inflicted, others simply Mother Nature’s way of reminding us to pay attention.
For a list of common health hazards and how to protect yourself, keep reading…
You’ve spent the day poolside in the blistering heat. Suddenly you feel dizzy, lightheaded and your mouth tastes like cotton. You’re dehydrated — meaning you haven’t consumed the necessary fluids to replace those you’ve been sweating out.
When you are active outdoors in the hot sun, you are at risk of dehydration and heatstroke. Avoid this by drinking plenty of water, take regular breaks in the shade, and try to schedule your most strenuous outdoor activities for early morning or evening hours.
For persons suffering more serious dehydration or heatstroke, get them indoors, have them put their feet up and cool off with a cool cloth or ice pack – frozen veggie packs will also do the trick.
According to the CDC, “the percentage of adults nationwide who got at least one sunburn during the preceding year rose from 31.8% in 1999 to 33.7% in 2004.
This of course, doubles your risk of developing melanoma if you’ve had just five sunburns in your life. Wear sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays, protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and seek shelter from boiling midday rays.
For those already suffering from sunburn, soak the burn in cool water for just a few minutes and take over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen. Itchy? Try a cream containing diphenhydramine (like Benadryl), which helps block the inflammatory reaction. Applying aloe vera will also soften and soothe the burned area.
3. Picnic poisoning
Food poisoning places about 300,000 people in the hospital each year. Avoid cramps, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or worse, dehydration due to restless potty breaks, with these steps provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
- Wash your hands as well as the surfaces where you’ll be preparing food.
- Wrap raw meat and store it away from other items.
- Have a meat thermometer on hand when grilling meat. Steaks should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, ground beef and pork to 160 degrees and poultry to 165 degrees.
- Refrigerate everything. Store perishable food items in a cooler packed with ice.
Mild cases can be treated at home by avoiding solids foods and adopting a clear liquid diet to stay hydrated. Should symptoms persist for more than a few days — 24 hours for children — see a doctor.
4. Stings and bites
Just recently, one of my loved ones was cleaning out their garage when he was bit by a copperhead snake. Fortunately, he made it to the ER in the nick time of time, where he received antivenin. If left unattended, many stings and bites can be life threatening.
In fact, 3 in 100 adults in the United States — or nearly 7 million people — have life-threatening allergies to insect stings, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Stay free of stinging insects by avoiding heavy perfumes and scents (like florals), wear light-colored clothing and cover your food and sugary drinks like sodas. While most people only experience pain when stung, if you develop hives, itchiness, trouble breathing or swelling of the tongue or face, consult a doctor immediately. Of course those with a known insect allergy should always carry an EpiPen.