The warmth of summer draws people from their houses, prompting outdoor play and time spent under the sun. As you plan for activities in the great outdoors, make sure summer stays your friend.
1. Water yourself
Maintain your fluid intake to avoid dehydration while you’re spending time outside this summer.
“Dehydration and heat-related illnesses are a big problem in the summertime,” says Michael Good, MD, medical director of Kettering Health Network Emergency – Franklin.
In addition to water, Dr. Good recommends sports drinks with electrolytes that will replace the electrolytes you lose when you sweat.
Consuming water or a sports drink is especially important when you’re exercising or in a hot climate. Signs you aren’t staying hydrated may include dry mouth, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, and in more extreme cases, confusion.
2. Keep it cool
Those same symptoms could also indicate heat exhaustion, a sign that your body is overheating and unable to cool itself down.
“Dehydration may progress into heat exhaustion, and heat exhaustion into heat stroke,” says Dr. Good. “Signs and symptoms associated with heat exhaustion include sweating, dizziness, lightheadedness, fast heart rate, fatigue, and muscle cramps.”
If someone near you is experiencing heat exhaustion, be sure to get them out of the heat and lay them down. You can fan them or spray cold water to help cool them, and make sure to keep them hydrated. If the heat causes vomiting, seizures, or unconsciousness, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency center.
3. Prep for playtime
Pavement and concrete pose a high risk of more serious injuries if children fall.
“If you’re biking or skateboarding, make sure you’re wearing a helmet,” Dr. Good says. “Wear knee and elbow pads for extra protection.”
Make sure each member of your family who participates in these outdoor activities has a helmet that fits their head and fastens correctly. Avoid skating or biking in areas with uneven terrain, wet surfaces, or a lot of pedestrians.
4. Be swimmer-savvy
Avoiding shallow water when you’re looking to take a dive is easy at the pool where water depth is clearly marked. But if you’re planning a trip to a local lake, beware of what lies below the water.
“With ponds, lakes, and creeks, it can be hard to see what’s under the water, and hazardous debris may cause injury,” Dr. Good says.
If you want to pull off the perfect cannonball this summer, wade into the water first to check the depth and look for any unforeseen objects.
5. Save your skin
It’s no secret that the sun poses a threat to skin of all types when left unprotected, which is why Dr. Good recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. But did you know that people taking certain medications may have an increased risk of sunburn?
“Some patients are on medications that make you more susceptible to sun damage, such as some antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, or antihistamine drugs,” says Dr. Good.
If you’re taking one of these types of medication, check the side effects to see if “photosensitivity” is listed. In addition to staying out of the sun and wearing sunscreen, talk to the prescribing physician about ways you can protect your skin from sunburn or other skin conditions.
Know Where to Go
In the event of an emergency, get to the nearest emergency center or call 911. Visit ketteringhealth.org/emergency to find the emergency department closest to you.