Be careful out there!

Learn to simmer during summertime fun

By Barbara Pierce

SUMMERTIME FUNSummer is here, which means warmth, fun and sunshine.

But it also means heat. As temperatures rise, so does the risk of serious heat-related illnesses and injuries. The Oneida County Health Department reminds us to take precautions during extremely hot weather. In extreme heat, our body temperature increases fast, our sweating mechanism can fail and our body cannot cool down.

We can overheat and easily get dehydrated in hot, humid weather, says its website.

Protect yourself from heat related issues:

  • Don’t get dehydrated: If you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s too late. Increased thirst is just one symptom that you’re dehydrated. Dark urine, dry skin, headache and cramps are common symptoms. Feeling irritable, tired, or confused can mean you’re dehydrated.

Drinking beer on a hot day doesn’t do it. It actually dehydrates you, as it causes your body to lose fluids.

Water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. There’s no magic number on the amount of water to drink. A good general rule is eight 8-ounce glasses a day; but everybody is different. Sports drinks are a good choice if you’re exercising or working in the heat.

  • Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. “It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism stops working and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperatures can rise to 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher,” said Christine Powroznik, communications intern with the Mohawk Valley Health System.

People aged 65 or over are particularly vulnerable, as are those with a chronic illness.

Causes include heat, strenuous activity, excess clothing, alcohol, or dehydration, she added. Heat stroke can happen in less than an hour with strenuous activity. If you are getting hot or lightheaded, stop and rest in a cool place out of the sun. Be sure to drink water or a sports drink before, during and after strenuous activity.

Signs of a heat stroke include a fast, strong pulse; headache; hot, red, dry or damp skin; dizziness; nausea; confusion, and even hallucinations and losing consciousness, she said.

If anyone experiences these heat stroke signs, call 911 as it is a medical emergency. Relocate them to a cooler place, remove excess clothing, help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath, and do not give anything to drink.

To prevent heat stroke, Powroznik advises drinking plenty of fluids, taking it easy during the hottest part of the day, wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, never let anyone stay in a parked car, and be especially cautious if you are at increased risk.

Be skin savvy

  • Protect your skin: Skin is our body’s largest organ, but often forgotten when it comes to taking care of our health.

“Make sure that you’re using the proper protection to guard yourself from ultra violet exposure,” said Victoria Bracco, communications specialist with MVHS.

“Practicing skin safety is crucial, as time spent outdoors will expose you to the sun even more. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are recognized as a result of UV exposure,” she noted.

“It’s vital that, when outdoors, you make sure that you seek shade, wear protective clothing and apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. It’s also important to remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating,” she added.

Apply sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days.

Photosensitivity is heightened skin sensitivity or an unusual reaction when your skin is exposed to the sun. You can become photosensitive as a result of prescription or over-the-counter medications, some skin care products or a genetic disorder.

Certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, cholesterol-lowering drugs, birth control pills, anti-diabetes medicines, and others may put you at risk for photosensitivity.

It causes damage to the skin, like an exaggerated sunburn with redness, swelling and sometimes blisters. It can look and feel like a sunburn or rash.

A phototoxic reaction can occur on the first use of the medication, within minutes to hours of being exposed to the sun. The higher the dose on takes, the greater the reaction.

  • Be tick aware: As temperatures heat up, ticks are more active. To prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, it’s crucial to take the following steps, recommended by Dr. Heidi Puc of Integrative Medicine of CNY, Chittenango:

— Avoid areas where ticks thrive, such as wood or leaf piles and long grass

— Wear light-colored clothing, long pants, sleeves, socks and close-toed shoes.

— Apply DEET-free tick repellent on skin and clothing. Remove clothing when you come home. Examine every part of your body for ticks.

— If you find a tick, remove it and save it for testing, or see a health care professional.

Monitor the bite site closely and see a physician if you notice any symptoms, such as a rash.

Enjoy your summer and stay safe!