By Kathy Hubbard
Astronomers say that summer starts on the solstice (longest day) which is tomorrow. Meteorologists divide the year into four seasons and count June 1 as the first day of summer.
I think most of us around here either start calling it summer on Memorial Day weekend or when school lets out.
Regardless of when you determine it’s actually summer, here are some hints to make sure you don’t end up in pain, the emergency department or worse.
First of all, know the symptoms of heat stroke. Whether you work or recreate outdoors you’re susceptible to heat stroke if you don’t stay hydrated and periodically get out of the hot sun.
“Older people, too, are susceptible, especially in a hot apartment with no air conditioning,” WebMD.com tells us. “The first sign is cramping in the legs, and if that occurs, cool off and drink fluid until it goes away because if you don’t, it can progress to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke.”
Other signs include red, hot, dry skin; rapid pulse; throbbing headache; confusion, and dizziness. If you’re sweating profusely it’s time to get out of the sun. To cool off, take a cool bath or shower or wrap up in a cool, wet blanket.
“It’s not just heat that makes summer fun problematic. Cold is a big problem when kids are out swimming and have been in the water so long that their lips are blue, they are shivering, and their body temperature has dropped. Make them warm back up to 98.6 degrees before they go back in, no matter how much they plead,” WebMD says.
And, while we’re talking about water, you know that you should never, ever leave children unattended around any water. If you can’t swim, take along an adult who can.
Mother said, “No swimming for a half hour after eating.” She falsely said it would cause cramps. However, WebMD says, “The truth is that when you are digesting food, there’s less blood flow in your body and this takes away from strength.” So they do recommend waiting 30 minutes after eating before resuming water activities in order to keep up stamina especially when swimming in water where there’s an undercurrent, like the river.
Now, what’s bugging you? Be it mosquitos, ticks, bees, wasps, yellow jackets or hornets, we want to stay protected from their nasty bites.
“Make yourself unattractive,” WebMD says, “to insects that is. Scented soaps, perfumes and hair sprays can attract mosquitoes and other biting bugs.” Use bug spray with DEET, but be sure to read the label carefully, there are different measures for children than adults, and it should not be used on infants.
If you know you’re allergic to bee stings, don’t leave home without an EpiPen. But, there are those of us who don’t know if we’re allergic or not.
“When bees or wasps sting, they go deep, and the venom gets into lungs and then the heart pumps more quickly, and within a minute, you will start feeling something, and within minutes, you will definitely know that you are having a reaction.
“Signs of a severe, life-threatening reaction include dizziness due to a drop in blood pressure and an inability to breathe from swelling in the nose and throat,” WebMD says. This is a medical emergency and 911 should be called and the patient transported to the emergency department as quickly as possible. If someone nearby has an EpiPen, borrow it.
Even if you’re not allergic, remove the stinger as quickly as possible if you get stung by a bee. Learn how to properly remove a tick. And, look up the methods for soothing the itch of mosquito bites. There are lots of them.
Please, pretty please, don’t go outside without sunscreen and reapply it every two hours. Melanoma is a potentially fatal form of skin cancer and is caused by getting sunburned. End of story.
Always wear proper safety gear. Helmets when riding bikes are important for the entire family, not just the kids. Check playground equipment before you or the kids climb on it. Know which plants are poisonous. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Stay safe out there and have a great summer!
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.