Summer Health Tips
No matter what summertime
activity you choose to participate in - some fun and games with family or
friends at the park, a refreshing swim, or a backyard barbecue - those hot and
humid days can take a toll on you physically, as well as present some hidden
dangers. Here are some tips on how you can manage the heat and keep cool during
the dog days of summer.
Managing the Heat
The risk of heat exhaustion
and heat stroke rises along with the temperature and humidity. Heat
illnesses occur when the body's cooling mechanism becomes overloaded.
When the heat starts to rise - slow down. Regardless of your activity level,
drink more fluids - your body needs water to prevent dehydration during warm
summer days. Stay away from liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large
amounts of sugar. Stay indoors or in shaded locations; wear lightweight,
light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; and limit your outdoor activity to
morning or evening hours when it is cooler outside.
Signals of Heat
exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop
well after dehydration occurs. Those most prone to heat exhaustion include the
elderly, those with high blood pressure, and children. Some symptoms of heat
exhaustion include: cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; muscle cramps; heavy
perspiring; nausea and sometimes vomiting; weakness; dizziness; dry mouth; and
stroke is a life-threatening situation. It occurs when the body is
unable to regulate its temperature. Heat stroke can occur within 10-15 minutes
of the first symptoms. Signs of heat stroke include: very high body temperature
(above 103 degrees); hot, dry, red skin; no sweating; nausea; dizziness;
confusion, disorientation, hallucinations; or loss of consciousness.
Treatment of Heat
If you feel you are
suffering from heat
exhaustion, it is important to get out of the sun and into a cool
place; loosen clothing; drink water/fluids (be sure to avoid caffeine and
alcoholic beverages); take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath; and rest.
Stroke is a medical emergency - have someone call for immediate medical
assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Get the person to a shaded area;
cool him/her rapidly using whatever methods you can (immerse in a tub of cool
water, place in a cold shower, spray with cool water from a garden hose); do
not give fluids; if convulsions occur, keep the victim from injuring himself;
call the hospital emergency room for further instructions if medical assistance
is delayed in responding.
Summer time means fun in
the sun, and plenty of fun and games in the water - but did you know that germs
could contaminate swimming water? Recreational water
illnesses (RWIs) are spread by swimming in contaminated recreational
waters such as: pools, water
parks, lakes, and the
ocean. Germs causing RWIs can be killed by chlorine, but it doesn't
work right away. It takes time to kill germs, and some are resistant to
chlorine and can live in pools for days. Here are some tips on how to protect
yourself and your family from RWIs.
Ear" is an infection of the ear and/or outer ear canal, which can cause
the ear to itch or become red and inflamed. More common in children and young
adults, movement or touching the ear can be extremely painful. Reduce your risk
of getting Swimmer's Ear:
- Dry your ears after
- Check with the pool
staff about the chlorine and pH-testing program at the pool. Those with good
control are unlikely to spread Swimmer's Ear.
- Avoid swimming in
locations that may have been closed because of pollution.
- Avoid putting objects
(e.g. fingers, cotton swabs) in your ear that may scratch the ear canal and
provide a site for infection.
Swimmer's Ear can be treated with antibiotic eardrops - contact your doctor if you think you might have Swimmer's Ear.
Itch" is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to infection caused
by certain parasites found in contaminated salt or fresh water. You may
experience tingling, burning, or itching of the skin. Small reddish pimples may
later occur and could develop into blisters. Swimmer's itch cannot be spread
from person-to-person, and most cases do not require medical attention. If you
have a rash - try not to scratch as this may cause the rash to become infected.
You may try the following for relief:
- Anti-itch lotion;
- Apply a baking soda
paste to the rash
Children are more likely to
be affected because they swim, wade, and play in the shallow water (where the
parasites are most often found) more than adults, and they do not towel dry
themselves when leaving the water. To reduce the risk of swimmer's itch:
- Avoid swimming in areas
where swimmer's itch is a known problem.
- Do not attract birds by
feeding them in areas where people are swimming.
- Avoid swimming near or
wading in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.
- Towel dry or shower
immediately after leaving the water.
No matter what time of the
year, more and more people are cooking outdoors. But
cooking during the summer seems to pose a few extra challenges -
leaving food out for just a short period of time under the hot sun can result
in harmful bacteria rapidly multiplying and it increases the chance of getting
illness. Here are some basic guidelines for safe food handling during
the hot summer months:
From Store to
- Purchase refrigerated
or frozen items after you have selected all your non-perishables.
- Put raw meat/poultry in
a plastic bag so juices won't cross-contaminate your fruits or
- Immediately refrigerate
all perishable items when you get home.
- Completely defrost
meat/poultry, so that it cooks more evenly and doesn't leave raw or poorly
When transporting food
to another location, whether on a long family trip or just a short distance to
the park, it is important to keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth.
- Keep meats refrigerated
until ready to use.
- Pack perishable food
from the refrigerator to the cooler just before leaving and keep on ice until
ready to use.
- Keep cooler out of
direct sunlight and avoid opening it too often.
Hint: Pack beverages in
one cooler and foods in another.
Whether preparing food in your kitchen for the backyard grill or
putting it all together at the campground, be sure to keep food surfaces
clean. And with so many "cooks in the kitchen", or at the grill, make
sure to have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand. To prevent foodborne
illness, don't use the same utensils or platters for raw and cooked
meats. If you are headed to the park or campgrounds, find out if there is a
source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparing and cleaning. Or pack
both dry and wet cloths for cleaning surfaces and hands.
This is just a brief
overview. For more information on summer health tips, check out these
these publications online:
* Names of resources and
organizations included in this online article are provided as examples only,
and their inclusion does not mean that they are endorsed by the Savvy Consumer
Information Center or any Government agency. Also, if a particular
resource or organization is not mentioned, this does not mean or imply that it
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