Feature Article - Summer safety guide - VA MidSouth Healthcare Network
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Feature Article - Summer safety guide

Veterans Health Watch

The promise of summer includes sunny days, lazy evenings, getaways and good times. To make sure those times really are good, heed these safety tips.

Sun smarts

Your best defense against sunburn is to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 at least one hour before going outside. Keep your head and body covered in light, loose layers. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

If you do get a sunburn, apply aloe vera gel right away, drink lots of water and take acetaminophen to ease minor discomfort. Cool showers, baths or compresses can soothe the burn. Call your health care provider if your skin blisters or if you develop chills, fever or nausea.

Sting savvy

If a bee, wasp or hornet stings you or your child, remove the stinger and venom sac by scraping it with your fingernail or a credit card. Wash the site with soap and water and apply an ice pack to stop the swelling. Watch for wheezing, labored breathing, nausea or vomiting. Go to an emergency room if any of these symptoms develop. Wear white or khaki colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants and avoid scented products.

Water wisdom

Make sure a lifeguard is always present and keep a close eye on children in the water. Everyone should be wearing life jackets when riding in a boat.

Plant patrol

The best way to avoid contact with poison ivy, poison sumac or poison oak is to know what they look like. Poison ivy has smooth, shiny leaves that occur in groups of three. Poison oak is similar; however, it grows in shrubs and its leaves more closely resemble oak leaves. Poison sumac resembles a shrub or a small tree. Its leaves are arranged in groups of seven to 13 pointed leaflets. If you come into contact with any of these plants, wash immediately with soap and water. Over-the-counter preparations and an oral antihistamine may bring relief.

Lyme elimination

Before hiking, find out if the area you’ll be in is Lyme disease country. Deer ticks carrying the virus live on plants and leaves close to the ground, so it’s easy to pick one up without realizing it. Wear longsleeved shirts and tuck pants legs into knee socks. If you develop a red, bull’s-eye rash or flulike symptoms, see your doctor immediately. A course of antibiotics within the first 72 hours will stop the disease’s progression. If left untreated, it can cause heart, joint or nervous system problems.




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This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, which should be obtained from your doctor.