How To Avoid Summer Health Hazards

It’s actually HOT in the UK and we’re just not used to it. So just in case you struggle with the warmer temperatures, here’s how to avoid the usual summer health hazards.

Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion — Limit Strenuous Outdoor Activity

When temperatures reach sweltering levels, it’s not just uncomfortable — it’s also dangerous and potentially deadly.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke, the two most severe heat-related illnesses, can occur when the body is unable to properly cool down after prolonged exposure to excessive heat (such as working or exercising outdoors). Heatstroke is a more severe case of heat exhaustion

Simply slow down and adjust your work and activity schedules to keep cool during midday, when the sun tends to be the strongest.

If you can, check on friends and neighbours to make sure they’re okay. This is especially important in the case of infants and young children, pregnant women, and elderly adults, who are at a higher risk of heat-related illness. People with underlying health issues such as heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, obesity, and overweight are also more susceptible. The should try and stay in air-conditioned places as much as possible. 

Above all, be on guard. If you start feeling sick, take the heat seriously.

Here are some symptoms of heat-related illness to look out for,

  • A body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • A fast pulse
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Confusion, irritability, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps

Mild and Severe Dehydration

Don’t Skimp on Water Intake.

Drink more water. When you’re out soaking up the sun, drinking alcohol or playing sport, it’s important to make drinking water a priority. Skip it for too long and you could face dehydration. The side effects of mild to moderate dehydration include thirst, a dry or sticky mouth, dry skin, headaches, muscle cramps, and dark wee. More severe side effects to watch for include rapid heart rate and breathing, irritability, confusion, dizziness, listlessness, sunken eyes, shrivelled skin, delirium, and unconsciousness.

Simply put, drink lots of water throughout the day, especially when spending time outdoors in the sun. spread it out, if you can, so that you’re drinking about 1 cup (8 oz) of water every 15 to 20 minutes.

Sunburn and Sun Damage — Make Applying Sunscreen a Daily Habit

Long, sunny days are one of the best parts of summer, but they can be a danger to the body’s largest organ: its skin. Venture out too long without sunscreen and you’re not just risking a painful sunburn — you’re increasing your chances of developing skin cancer. Plus, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can increase the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and sunspots – as if you needed another reason not to skimp on the sunscreen.

Again, limit your time in the sun and choose a shady spot whenever possible. Most important, make sunscreen a daily habit, whether the sun is shining or not. Even cloudy days carry a risk of UV exposure. Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher, and reapply it at least every two hours.

Areas to apply sunscreen that are commonly overlooked? The scalp, ears, front and back of the neck, chest, backs of knees, and tops of feet. Once you’ve properly applied sunscreen, don’t forget to wear sunglasses. They’re for more than style:

UVA and UVB rays can also damage eyes.

Insect Bites and the Spread of Diseases — Be Mindful of Yourself and Your Surroundings

Stay mindful of insect bites which are not only annoying but also can transmit serious illnesses. Be especially wary of ticks and mosquitoes —mosquitoes can transmit diseases and ticks can spread up to 16 different infectious illnesses, including Lyme disease.

  • Use insect repellent even on short journeys outside. If you can, even in the heat, wear long sleeves and long shorts and wear socks. And wear as much anti-mozzie spray on your ankles at night as possible.
  • Avoid areas with tall grass, as well as treating clothes with products that contains an insect repellent. If you’re camping, consider pre-treating your tent or hammock with repellent as well. If you’re worried you’ve been in a tick-infested area, then try showering within two hours of returning from outing and wash clothes in hot water — and dry them on high heat, too.

·       Allergies 

  • When it comes to allergies, we typically think of spring, but rising temperatures and longer warm seasons increase pollen production and are extending allergy season. And pollen settling onto surfaces we touch, like picnic blankets or patio furniture, can also set off an allergic skin reaction.
  • To keep your home pollen-free, use a damp cloth to remove pollen from hair and skin or showering right after coming in from the outdoors, as well as washing outdoor clothes and bedding to remove pollen that has settled there, and vacuuming regularly. 

·       Food Safety — Be Cautious of Spoiled or Undercooked Food

  • Who doesn’t love dining al fresco? Whether you’re having a BBQ or picnicking, take a second to consider how long your feast has been sitting out unrefrigerated, or if what’s hot off the grill is truly cooked through. We forget that mayo on salad really needs to be refrigerated, as well as how long our food’s been sitting in the car or outside in the sun. Plenty of picnickers complain about s nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
  • Don’t let food sit out at between for more than two hours at a time, as this provides the perfect “danger zone” for foodborne bacteria to multiply. Store cold food until it’s ready to eat. Toss foods that have been in the danger zone for too long — it’s not worth the risk.
  • For a safe BBQ refrigerate and separate meat and seafood from other foods to prevent cross-contamination, washing your hands often while handling food, cleaning your grill and tools before and after each use, and thoroughly cooking meat. A meat thermometer can help you figure out when your meat has reached a safe internal temperature.

Barefoot Accidents and Injuries — Protect Your Feet

Feeling the grass between your toes or walking barefoot on the beach is a mood-boosting summer treat, but going shoeless can expose your digits to a host of injuries. Puncture wounds can happen if you step on a sharp object like glass, nails, or even seashells. Walking barefoot on a hot surface can cause burns, and walking barefoot on a damp surface exposes the feet to fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. And for those tempted to run a lawnmower barefoot, know that mechanical accidents can cause major damage.

In general, covering your feet when possible will be your best line of defence. But not all footwear is equal and different situations require different shoes.

  • Slides are good by the pool, and even in hotel rooms. They help limit the likelihood of contracting a fungal infection like athlete’s foot or a viral infection like warts. Just avoid walking long distances in them.
  • Use sneakers at the beach or for hiking and outdoor recreation. Just be sure they are completely dry before you put them back on-again next time.
  • Wear work boots during gardening work. This is especially important when using a lawnmower!

If you’re managing diabetes, never go barefoot, not even inside, because poor circulation in the feet puts you at a higher risk of problems. But if you have to let your feet be free, at least inspect your feet daily for sores, irritation, and puncture wounds, and wash and dry them thoroughly.