Here Comes the Sun! By Dr. Victoria Guerra Farley
Summer is here again! This time of the year can be especially harsh in Southern Nevada, with temperatures often reaching the triple digits. Although many people enjoy the outdoors during the summer months, the heat and sun can pose a wide variety of risks to your health. Before you head out for some fun in the sun, remember the following tips from your HealthCare Partners physicians to keep you and your family safe this season.
Drinking water is important year-round, but it is particularly essential in the summertime. When temperatures are high, it is very easy to become dehydrated if you don't drink enough fluids to replace what is lost when you sweat. Dehydration can cause headaches, weakness, confusion and even unconsciousness. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water regularly, even when you are not thirsty.
Sunlight can be extremely harmful, excessive exposure to the sun is a major cause of skin cancer. You don't have to avoid the sun altogether, however. Always apply sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The physicians at HealthCare Partners recommend products with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher. In fact, the higher the SPF you can find, the better and don't forget to re-apply throughout the day if you will be outdoors for prolonged periods of time. Also remember to wear a shirt, hat and sunglasses for extra defense. Hats and clothing with SPF embedded in them are also extra handy and will help you stay protected.
During hot weather, our body temperatures can reach dangerous levels. Typically, your body cools itself by sweating. When you are exposed to too much heat, however, sweating is just not enough, and heat illnesses such as heat rash, heat exhaustion and even life-threatening heat stroke can occur. Be familiar with the signs of heat illness, including red, dry skin, excessive sweating, nausea and a fast heartbeat. Stay safe by remaining in the shade whenever possible and hydrating often.
Limit your time spent doing strenuous outdoor activities during hot days to avoid heat illnesses and overheating. Try to avoid going outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the time of day when it is hottest and UV rays are most intense, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Schedule activities such as running, biking and lawn work early in the morning or later in the afternoon when temperatures are cooler.
Swimming and water sports are especially enjoyable in the summertime. Experiencing these activities with a partner makes them safer and even more fun. Always remember to supervise children whenever they are in the water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Remember to stay vigilant as signs of drowning are not like what we see on TV or in the movies. People who are drowning are physiologically unable to call out for help or wave their arms. Being alert around water is extremely important, but the most vital precaution is learning to swim.
There's plenty of fun to be had this season. Just remember these simple tips from your providers at HealthCare Partners to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer!