Summertime, and the living is...dangerous? It can seem that way if you’ve been keeping up with the news lately. First, there was a so-called mega-heatwave that scorched several European countries, including France, where temperatures reached a record-breaking 114.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In California, the mercury soared so high that mussels were frying to death in their shells and highways began to buckle.
Even in areas of the world where the climate remains milder, the opportunities for illness and injury increase each summer. Skyrocketing temperatures, increased activity levels, proximity to the water, more time spent in nature, and the fact that school’s out for the summer all account for these common hazards and health risks.
Hot enough for ya? While heat-related conditions like dehydration and sunstroke can be dangerous, most people seek medical attention before they truly are at risk. Symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, a pounding headache, and unexplained muscle weakness drive folks to urgent care pretty quickly. That’s smart, docs say — but even smarter would be to avoid these issues in the first place.
Drink plenty of water if you’re going to be outdoors, don’t overexert yourself, and take frequent breaks from direct sunlight. If you can, stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day — between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Water Injuries and Drownings
Boating injuries, sprained ankles from slipping on wet surfaces, diving-related head trauma, and of course tragic drownings are also much more common in the summertime.
Whether you’re headed to the ocean, the lake, a pool, or a waterpark, it’s wonderful to splash around and cool down. But use your common sense when you do so. Walk, don’t run, on slippery surfaces. Make sure diving is permitted before you do that half-gainer. Wear life jackets.
And for heaven’s sakes, if you are a parent, supervise small children whenever you are anywhere near water. Drowning is one of the top causes of death among one- to four-year-olds, and 75% of those drowning deaths take place in backyard swimming pools.
Think that winter time, with its crackling fireplaces, cozily burning candles and holiday baking, is the time of year that burns are most likely to happen? Think again. Summertime brings s’mores, beachside bonfires, campfires, backyard firepits, barbecue grills, and of course the burning rays of Mr. Sun himself.
Sunburns can be incredibly painful, and of course they can also contribute to a diagnosis of melanoma down the line. To avoid them, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and be sure to apply it 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply it every two hours, or after swimming or excessive sweating. Another good way to keep yourself covered is with hats and clothing that offers UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50+.
“When it comes to other sources of burns, be careful around fires, grills, lighters, sparklers and fireworks,” says Dr. Anteneh Belay, a physician who works at a Deer Park urgent care facility. “Never squirt lighter fluid onto an open flame, and keep children far away from all these flammable items.”
One of the best parts of summertime get-togethers is all the delicious food, like hot dogs and hamburgers, salads of all sorts, and refreshing fruit-based cocktails. Unfortunately, the rate of food-borne illnesses goes up in the summer, too, because there are so many pitfalls that home cooks and hosts must avoid.
A few rules of thumb:
· Make sure all utensils and cooking surfaces are clean — that includes your hands!
· Cook all food to the proper temperature to kill bacteria.
· Keep cold foods cold. Be especially mindful of dishes that contain dairy or mayonnaise, like potato or macaroni salads.
· Wash all fruits and vegetables properly before serving them raw.
· Don’t cross-contaminate. Use separate platters and utensils for raw and cooked foods.
As a guest, be wary of any food that’s been sitting outside, especially in the sunshine, for more than an hour or so. And if that burger doesn’t look cooked through, don’t hesitate to ask the grillmaster to put it back over the coals for a few minutes!
A Few Final ThoughtsNow that you know what summer illnesses, injuries, and accidents to be on the lookout for, it’s also a good idea to know where they can be treated. If the issue is life-threatening, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency department. For other problems, those that are still serious and can’t wait for a routine doctor’s appointment but that don’t merit an ER trip, try urgent care. Updated Date: 10 July 2019, 15:49