Summer is the most fun season of the year, for kids especially. But there are several health hazards that parents and children should be careful of:
- Sunburn. In Arizona, there is a high risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure. Too much sun can age the skin prematurely. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 generously all over any exposed body part when you’re planning to be in the direct sun for an extended period of time. An extended period means more than 15 minutes between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or more than 20 minutes at any other time of the day. To protect your face and eyes, even more, wear quality sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat when in direct sunlight for more than 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Swimming accidents. You’ve heard it before: two seconds is too long to take your eye off a child around water. There are a few key ways to prevent swimming accidents. One is to make sure an approved fence with a self-latching gate surrounds a backyard or public pool (especially at a home or apartment complex you’re visiting). Second, arrange for your children to complete swimming lessons no later than age 4 from a qualified instructor. Most importantly, always make sure a designated adult is always watching children up to age 11 in a pool.
- Heat-related illnesses and dehydration. Heat illness takes three forms:
- Heat cramps, where you experience muscle cramps as the first sign that the heat is too intense for you;
- Heat exhaustion, where you may experience intense sweating and a rapid pulse;
- Heat stroke, is a true medical emergency. Some of the signs include a lack of sweating, a throbbing headache, confusion, nausea and vomiting, and rapid, shallow breathing.
At the first sign of heat illness, move out of the sun immediately and drink plenty of water or a sports drink that replaces lost sodium and potassium in your system. Try to drink at least 30 ounces of water every hour that you’re doing vigorous physical activity in direct sunlight, or when it’s 90 degrees or hotter outside. At other times of the day, try to drink at least six eight-ounce glasses of water throughout the day.
- Food poisoning. Prepared food left out in the heat can start to develop dangerous bacteria in one hour with no refrigeration. Some of the foods most vulnerable to bacteria growth in the heat are egg salad, tuna salad, meats of all kinds and any dairy product. Keep food out of direct sunlight. Bring the food into refrigeration before an hour passes from the time the food was set outside. If you’re serving indoors, perishable foods should not be left out unrefrigerated for more than 90 minutes.
- Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying, they can carry diseases. If you’re going to be outside for more than 15 minutes, apply insect repellent. The repellent should be applied after sunscreen. You can also avoid mosquitoes by wearing light-colored clothes. In addition, dump out any standing water near your home.
To make sure your summer activities are safe and enjoyable, always keep these hazards in mind. And if you run into any health challenges this summer, contact denova Collaborative Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation.