July 2015: Summer Health Hazards

Now that the July 4th holiday weekend has come and gone, summer is officially in full swing.  Many of us have vacation or “stay-cation” plans which may include getting together with family or for some parents, getting away from family!  Whatever you do during these “hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer” it’s important to keep summer safety in mind, whether at work or at home.  I thought it would be appropriate to share some excerpts from an article by Gina Shaw, featured in WebMD Magazine entitled “Top 7 Summer Health Hazards.”  I strongly encourage you to read the article in its entirety and share it with your friends and family: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/top-7-summer-health-hazards.  And of course if your summer plans include thinking about a potential job change, we can “keep you safe” on that score as well! C>


Ryan Stanton MD, a Lexington KY emergency room physician knows that when the weather starts heating up, so do a host of health hazards that can quickly turn a festive day at the beach into a disaster. He tells WebMD the Magazine about what brings summer revelers into his emergency room most often — and how you can enjoy the warm weather while escaping the same fate.

1 – Mower injuries – Every homeowner loves the sight of a pristine, neatly mowed yard. But in their haste to get that lawn in shape, some people forget to take precautions. To be safe: Wear closed-toed shoes — preferably with a steel toe — when you mow, along with goggles or sunglasses, gloves, and long pants that will protect you from flying debris. Keep kids away from the push mower and off the riding mower. Riding mowers are not just another ride-on toy. Get a professional to service your mower or learn how to do it properly.

2 – Boating accidents – “People’s biggest mistake by far is drinking and boating. People get out there and drink alcohol all day in the sun, and you end up with the same accidents you have with driving — with the added risks of falling out of boats, getting hit by propellers, and drowning.” It’s also easy to get lax about life jackets. “Kids need to have them on all the time,” he says. When you are going to be out on a boat or at the beach with a child, basic lifesaving skills are a must, not a luxury.

3 – Dehydration Disasters – You’ve romped outdoors with the kids all day, and your water bottle ran dry long ago. Suddenly you feel dizzy and lightheaded, and your mouth tastes like cotton. You’re dehydrated — meaning you haven’t taken in enough fluids to replace those you’ve been sweating out. People can get dehydrated any time of year, but it’s much more common in the summer months, when they are active outdoors in the warm sun. Preventing dehydration and heatstroke couldn’t be easier: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, take regular breaks in the shade, and try to schedule your most vigorous outdoor activities for times when the heat isn’t so strong, such as early morning or late afternoon.

4 – Sunburn Snafus – With all the skin cancer warnings, you’d think Americans would be getting fewer sunburns, not more. But you’d be wrong. Your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had just five sunburns in your life. “A sunburn is a first-degree burn, right up there with thermal burns,” says Stanton. (Get into the habit of) practicing “safe sun” — wearing sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays, long-sleeved shirts, and wide-brimmed hats, and staying out of blistering midday rays.

5 -Picnic Poisoning – Food poisoning puts about 300,000 people in the hospital every year, hitting its peak in the summer months. “Anything that has mayonnaise, dairy, or eggs in it and any meat products can develop some pretty nasty bacteria after only a couple of hours unrefrigerated,” says Stanton.

6 – Fireworks Safety –  Many people love fireworks, but fireworks don’t necessarily love them back. Nearly 9,000 individuals were injured by fireworks in 2009, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and two were killed. The safest way to watch fireworks is at a professionally sponsored display. But if you can buy fireworks legally and want to set off a few at home, take these precautions: Keep a hose or fire extinguisher handy to put out small fires. Keep children away from fireworks. “Everybody loves to give sparklers to kids, but they burn very hot and can cause significant eye injuries,” Stanton says. In fact, a sparkler can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some types of metals. “They can go off quickly and cause burns or just explode in your hand.”

7 – Summertime Stings – You’re out for a pleasant day of working in the yard and you dig up a hornet’s nest — literally. For most people, a bee or wasp sting is just painful, but for a few, it can be life-threatening. You may not know you’re one of them until after you’ve been stung — sometimes more than once. To stay free of bees (and other stinging insects, including mosquitoes) when outdoors, avoid heavy perfumes and scents (especially florals), wear light-colored clothing with no floral patterns (stinging insects are attracted to dark colors and flowers), and guard food and sugary drinks like sodas.

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