Staying safe while enjoying the great outdoors

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Summer can be a lot of fun and spending time outside is just one piece of it. Since many people will be outside, you should be aware of how to stay safe from sunburns, heat stroke and dehydration. Sunburns are never pleasing to have and if they are prevented, then the fun under the sun won’t stop you.

Although sunburns are very serious, they are commonly overlooked for being insignificant. The good news is they can be easily be prevented if the proper steps are taken. Sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher should be applied to properly protect against harmful UV rays. It also helps for the sunscreen to be waterproof or water resistant. After an adequate sunscreen is selected, every part of the body seen by the sun must be covered. That includes the neck, face, ears, arms, shoulders, back and legs. If more than two hours is spent outside, a second coat is recommended. Once your skin is covered, you are ready to embrace the sun.

Heat stroke is very serious and is something that everyone spending quality time outside should be aware of. Heat stroke occurs when the body’s internal temperature goes from an average of 98.6 degrees to more than 104 degrees. The key to preventing heat stroke is to take regular breaks in the shade and listen to what your body is trying to say. It can be easy to identify when to take a break because the body will start to feel weak, nauseous, and dizzy. If the body’s warnings are listened to, there should be no problems with preventing heat stroke.

The last issue that people may face is dehydration. It can be easily avoided by drinking plenty of water and consuming salts or electrolytes in fluids. Most people can become dehydrated quickly because the extreme heat from the sun causes profuse sweating. Taking regular breaks and drinking routinely throughout the day should prevent dehydration. If you are active and outside, then it is recommended that the normal amount of water intake should increase to account for the extra fluid loss. Water is a necessity for outside activities and should be considered for any event.

Mason Bell is a student intern at Memorial Community Hospital and Health System.

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