Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Safety Tips!

By: Levena Lindahl

I don’t know about where you live, but this summer has been HOT down here in Charleston.  With August coming with more heat, here are some safety tips for when you are out and about, whether for picnics or for vacation.
Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is what happens when you dehydrate and are out in the heat past the point of heat exhaustion.  Water is your best friend to help combat this, combined with a drink with electrolytes between bottles of water.  Signs of heat stroke include: cramping, sweating, hot, dry, red skin, rapid pulse, headache, confusion, and dizziness.  If you or someone you are with are showing these signs, it is important to get to a place to cool off!  Use wet towels or ice packs to help the body cool down while offering water to replace the fluids lost in sweat.

Being from the frozen North, I have pretty pale skin most of the time, and I am always the first one to get sunburnt.  When you know you will be out in the sun for a while, lather up!  Make sure your sunscreen says broad spectrum to protect from both UVB and UVA rays with at least a SPF of 15.  (I myself use a 50 or better, but again, I burn like it’s my job.)  Make sure you apply your sunscreen of choice 15-30 minutes before you head outside or into the water, and reapply every hour or two.  If you do get burned, drink lots of water, as it will help get you rehydrated, which your skin will need.  Cool towels or aloe can help with the stinging sensation, along with a pain killer like ibuprofen. 

It’s important to know that there are different levels of sunburn, from one to three.  The first stage is red skin sensitive to the touch.  The second degree is a darker, or even purplish red burn where your skin is swollen and sore to the touch.  It’s also really easy to see the difference between burnt and non-burnt skin.  The last stage is the worst, when you burn to the point where your skin blisters.  If this happens to you, it is super important that you DON’T pop the blister as you could get an infection if you do.  Leave it be and the fluid will eventually be reabsorbed, though the burned skin might peel off afterwards.   It is also possible to sunburn over an older sunburn, and that burned skin is more susceptible.  Make sure you heal up before heading back into the sun if at all possible. 

If you are heading out into the great outdoors for hiking, make sure you practice tick safety!  Lyme Disease is carried by bacteria infected ticks, and while it is most common in the northeastern and Midwestern United States, it is important to stay safe.  Wear appropriate clothing and spray a repellant with DEET onto exposed skin and clothes.  If you do find a tick, remove it as quickly as possible but DON’T throw it away!  Take it to your doctor for testing and be on the lookout for a bulls-eye style rash around the bite, fever, headache and joint and muscle pain.

I will freely admit it, I am a horrible swimmer.  If you are heading to the water, make sure you are with a strong swimmer if you are not feeling confident with your skills, or stay in the shallows.  If you are going into the ocean, be sure you understand about the undertow, which can take you out and under very quickly if you are unprepared.  It’s also important to know that the ocean is full of creatures, and while the fish might come say ‘hi’ keep an eye out for jellyfish and sharks!  Pay attention to the lifeguard, if there is one, and be prepared to get out of the water.


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