The sun is at its most dangerous with the strongest UltraViolet (UV rays) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Protect yourself from skin cancer, early aging, and heat stroke with the following tips:
Sunburn is just that, burned skin. Symptoms include pink or red skin, swelling, pain, peeling skin, and blisters. Seek medical attention if the burn covers a large part of the body, there is a fever, nausea, headache, confusion, or infection.
- Use SPF 30 or higher with both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection every day, even on cloudy days
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or working out.
- Long sleeves and pants, especially those made out of UV protectant clothing may replace sunscreen.
- Wear a full brim hat the protects your face and neck and sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
Dehydration can be a serious condition. Symptoms include darker urine, loss of motor function and short-term memory, lack of focus, dizziness, constipation, and headaches.
- Drink 8, 8 oz glasses of water each day. The human body is 60% and our brains 73% water. We can lose between half a liter and two liters of sweat per hour of heat exposure or exercise.
- Include water-heavy fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumber, cauliflower, celery, and tomatoes in your daily diet.
- Prolonged exposure to the sun, particularly through activity, can result in electrolyte imbalance.
Sun Exposure and Heat Stroke
Sun exposure symptoms include light headed, dizziness, blurry vision, headache, and nausea.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible during the middle of the day; avoid prolonged exposure to direct sun or high temperatures.
- Be careful in humidity: it slows the sweat evaporation process, making it difficult for the body to cool itself.
- Use misters, damp towels, and fans to help keep core temperature down.
- Plants and bugs can be some summer’s biggest hazards. Awareness and swift attention when encounters do happen will help ease suffering.
The briefest of encounters with poison ivy can cause extreme itching, oozing blisters, rashes, and swelling.
- When exposed to trace amounts of urushiol, the oil in poison ivy, 80 to 90% of people break out in an itchy, red rash with bumps and oozing blisters.
- Best to completely avoid coming in contact with the plant’s leaves, vines, or smoke from burning plants.
- Immediately rinse skin with rubbing alcohol, specialized poison plant washes, degreasing soap (dishwashing soap) or detergent, and lots of water.
- Apply wet compresses, calamine lotion, calendula gel, or hydrocortisone cream to the skin to reduce itching and blistering.
- An antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can be taken to help relieve itching.
- Prescribed steroid shots or pill courses can halt the reaction and alleviate the itching.
It’s a good practice not to walk bare-legged in fields or stick hands into dark spaces, but that alone won’t keep your summer bug bite free.
Ticks are blood sucking bugs that can carry a wide range of diseases, such as Lyme. Preferring warm, moist environments, ticks migrate to these parts of the body. While most bites are harmless, allergic reactions requiring medical attention can occur. Carrier ticks bring disease that may show up within a few days as a red spot or rash near the bite site, a full body rash, neck stiffness, headache, nausea, weakness, muscle or joint pain, fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter by walking in the center of trails.
- Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin. This protection only lasts several hours.
- Use products that contain at least .5% permethrin on clothing.
- Bathe or shower within two hours of potential contact to wash off and find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check upon return from tick-infested areas. Check under arms, in and around ears, inside the belly button, behind knees, between legs, around the waist, and in hair. Ticks can be as small as a pin head to up to a half inch across.
- Examine gear and pets as potential carriers.
Mosquitoes are blood sucking bugs that can cause a puffy, white and reddish bump that appears a few minutes after the bite. Concern should be taken with hard, itchy, reddish-brown bumps, multiple bumps, small blisters, or dark spots appearing a day or so after the bite or bites. Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.
- Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Remove / dump standing water in properties, especially after rain.
- Avoid wet, marshy areas and standing ponds.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside in mosquito-rich areas.
- Use insect repellent such as 20% DEET or wear mosquito bracelets.
- Use window screens and minimize indoor mosquito contact.
- Install a bat house on property. A single bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour.
The overwhelming majority of spiders cannot harm humans as they are non-venomous or have fangs too small to penetrate skin. Of the few that can cause harm in Virginia, the ones to watch out for are Black Widows, and Brown Recluses. Symptoms from these bites include itching or rash pain around the area of the bite, muscle pain or cramping, red or purple blisters, sweating, difficulty breathing, headache, nausea and vomiting, fever, chills, anxiety or restlessness, rashes, swollen lymph glands, and high blood pressure.
- Apply an ice pack on and off for 10 minutes at a time.
- Elevate the area to reduce swelling.
- Seek medical treatment.
While snake bites, even those from venomous snakes, are rarely fatal, they should still be treated by a medical professional immediately. Even a bite from a harmless snake can be serious, leading to an allergic reaction or an infection. two puncture wounds with swelling and redness, pain at the bite site, difficulty breathing, vomiting and nausea, blurred vision, sweating and salivating, and numbness in the face and limbs.
- Know how to identify snakes. All venomous but coral snakes in the United States are pit vipers. These are identified by a triangular shaped head and long fangs.
- Be careful walking through tall grass or brush.
- Wear boots and long pants when out hiking.
- Watch for snakes before moving stationary objects such as logs, rocks, or items around the house.
- Respect snakes and leave them alone. If one is spotted, move away slowly and quietly.
Summer Food Safety
Warmer temperatures and outdoor activities increase the likelihood of food-borne illnesses started by disease-causing microbes, or pathogens. These can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, and may lead to more serious issues such as death. Fluids and medical intervention may be necessary in more serious cases.
- Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours. In weather above 90°F, never more than 1 hour.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
- Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never use items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.
- Use a refrigerator or insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel to keep food cold. These include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads; cut up fruit and vegetables; and dairy products.