Stay safe in the sun


Stay safe in the sun

We’re supposed to be out there having fun, but a painful sunburn or nasty dose of food poisoning won’t enhance anyone’s summer.

It’s easy to avoid most of the usual risks lurking in the campground or on the barbecue with some common-sense precautions recommended by health officials.

People who already have a health condition, often the elderly, are likely to be hardest hit by air pollution, excessive heat or a bout of food poisoning.

Babies up to six months old aren’t supposed to wear sunscreen or insect repellent, so it’s best to keep them in the shade covered with bug netting. And remember, wasps and bees get mad if you swat them, so stay calm to avoid a sting.

Before going out in the sun

Prevent sunburn, premature aging, skin cancer and a suppressed immune system by wearing sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, loose lightweight clothing that covers your skin or staying in the shade. Protect eyes with sunglasses that screen out UVA (long-range ultraviolet radiation) and UVB (short-range ultraviolet radiation). Avoid exposure to the sun at midday. Avoid heatstroke by not working outside on very hot days and drinking lots of water.

If you get too much sun

Get out of the sun. Take a cool bath. Apply aloe gel, but not creams that will trap in heat. Drink lots of fluids and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain, but do not give Aspirin to children. Serious heatstroke — in which the person is dehydrated, confused and has a body temperature over 40 °C — could require medical treatment.

Before a walk in the woods

Apply an insect repellent containing DEET (up to 30 per cent concentration for adults and children over 12; up to 10 per cent children under 12 except infants up to six months), avoid being outside in mosquito prime time-dawn and dusk. Get rid of standing water to reduce mosquito breeding sites. In wooded and grassy areas where ticks are found, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into sock and shoes. Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus. Ticks can carry Lyme disease.

If you are bitten

Some people get a strong reaction to mosquito bites requiring an antihistamine. Otherwise, reduce the itch with calamine lotion. Check your whole body for ticks after an outing. Pull the tick out with tweezers if you find one and take it to the doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms or a bull’s-eye-shaped or roundish rash.

Before jumping in the water

Freshwater lakes can have swimmer’s itch caused by an invisible parasite carried by snails. Avoid it by not wading in weedy areas and showering or towelling off after your swim. Also watch for coliform bacteria warnings on beaches in hot weather. Most jellyfish in the ocean around B.C. are harmless with the exception of the lion’s mane a very large, orange-coloured beast.

Taking the sting out

Treat a jellyfish sting by rinsing it with sea water, removing remaining stingers by applying a paste of baking soda and sea water and scraping it off when it dries. Ice or calamine lotion can calm the itching or most skin irritations, including stings by bees and wasps. Watch out for an allergic reaction — facial swelling, trouble breathing, nausea — which requires medical attention.

Before firing up the grill

Your chances of getting sick from food increases with hot weather. Salmonella and E. coli bacteria multiply quickly in warm, moist conditions. Prevent food poisoning by separating raw meat, poultry and eggs from all other foods, washing hands, counters, cutting boards and dishes with warm, soapy water to eliminate bacteria, chill leftovers and cook food thoroughly to an internal temperature of 71 °C (160 °F) for ground meat, 74 °C (165 °F) for poultry parts, 85 °C (185 °F) for whole poultry.

Too late: food poisoning

If you develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Most people recover without treatment after a few days. See a doctor if the diarrhea is bloody. It could indicate a virulent form of E. coli.

Before outdoor exercise

Hot weather and high humidity can increase smog and ground-level ozone, a particular concern for Fraser Valley residents. Add plant pollens and mould and it can aggravate asthma or allergies. People with heart and lung conditions are most at risk and should limit outdoor activities when the air quality index says there’s a health risk. Strenuous outdoor activities should be avoided in the afternoon when ground-level ozone is usually at its highest. Get someone else to mow the lawn, which can stir up allergens.

When the air is not clear

Stay indoors and use air conditioning or make sure household air filters are clean. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, go to a shopping centre or public library that it. Use air conditioning in the car. Exercise indoors.

Source: Postmedia News


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James Chung

Founder & Editor in Chief of Hello Vancity magazine. Email [email protected]

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