Tips on Summer Hazards to Avoid

As families head out for Memorial Day Weekend, doctors from the American Family Care are reminding the public about Summer Health Hazards that could slow down your fun in the sun. 

Although the Southland weather remains pockmarked by rain and wind, warmer temperatures will eventually come. That means more people will be outside for hours and there are summer scenarios that can sneak up on you and lead to illness.  

“This time of year, we are constantly talking with families about the health hazards they can face while going to either the pool, beach or lake throughout the summer,” says Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer of American Family Care, a national healthcare network with medical clinics in your community.

“From the importance of showering before jumping in a pool to staying hydrated in the sun to searching for ticks following a family picnic, we are advising patients about certain signs and symptoms that could mean a summer pitstop to an urgent care or emergency room.”

Here are several tips to make your summer safer:

1. Shower before making a splash.  A new survey  by the Water Quality & Health Council finds more than half of Americans use a swimming pool as a “communal bath” — and the more dirt, sweat and products like shampoo or deodorant, that mix with chlorine, the less the chlorine works to kill germs. Forty percent of the respondents to the survey also admitted urinating in the pool as an adult. This is why it’s so crucial to shower before you jump into a pool.

 • Germs and chemicals found in pools can cause recreational water Illnesses, like rashes, diarrhea, ear and respiratory infections.

• Before you swim in a public pool, check ratings for chemical maintenance.  

 2. Play it cool in the heat. Educate yourself about the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

• Heat exhaustion happens before heat stroke. When the body overheats, you experience heavy sweating, dizziness, a rapid pulse, nausea, headache and/or cool, moist skin. Go into a shady or air-conditioned space. Remove tight, heavy clothing, lay down, slightly elevate legs and feet and drink cool water.

• Heat stroke can kill you if you do not get in front of a medical expert. When your body hits 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, your brain, kidneys and muscles can be damaged and lead to serious complications.

3. Don’t become a mosquito magnet 

• You can become a target for mosquitoes by drinking a cold beer on a balmy afternoon.  Research published by the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association suggests alcohol may slightly raise your body temperature making you more appealing to mosquitoes.

• Your body produces lactic acid anytime you sweat and mosquitos find it irresistible. Athletes can reduce lactic acid by washing with soap and thoroughly drying their skin after exercise. 

• Any and all bug bites can cause a severe allergic reaction. In most of these reactions, you will experience severe swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat. If left untreated, you can have trouble breathing.

4. Dodge dehydration. You can dehydrate if you spend long days outside at the pool, beach or park without a drink.

• You can become dehydrated when your body is losing or using more fluid than you’re taking in. This happens in hot, humid weather when you sweat a lot.

• Symptoms of dehydration include obvious thirst, dry mouth, irritability,  fatigue and/or a weak pulse.  

• Drink water or sports drinks with electrolytes.     

• Eat regular meals to replace salt lost while sweating. 

5. Stick to sunscreen standards. No matter your age or your skin tone, AFC doctors recommend always applying at least a 30 SPF sunscreen when going outdoors.      

• If you get a severe sunburn, take either ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain, fever or headache.

• Drink plenty of water.

• Use moisturizing cream or aloe gel for extra relief.

• Do not return to the the sun until burn has healed.

• See a doctor when…

-Sunburn covers more than 15 percent of body.

-Severe pain lasts more than 48 hours.

-You have a fever of more than 101 degrees.