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How can you and your family stay safe during hot and sunny days?

Jun 26, 2024

By Teresa Sherrard, RN, William Newton Hospital Director of Occupational Health Services

Prevention is the best medicine! Taking precautions will help prevent heat-related emergencies each day and help prevent skin cancers in the future. Here are some tips for both adults and children:

  • Stay hydrated – Before going outside drink one or two glasses of water. Then every 20-30 minutes while exercising or participating in strenuous activity take a drink. For those who work or play outside, you may want to drink sports drinks but drink half water and half sports drink, or for every amount of sports drink, you should drink twice that amount of water
  • Limit sun exposure – If you have to be outside, stay in the shade whenever you can, especially between 10 am and 4 pm
  • Dress appropriately – Lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing made of cotton is best. Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses with 99% UV protection
  • Take breaks – Work and exercise in short periods. Take breaks in a cool or shaded area.
  • Keep cool – Use air conditioning or a fan. Keep your skin moist with a spray bottle, damp sponge, or cool showers
  • Avoid strenuous activities – Don’t do heavy labor or lifting during the hottest part of the day
  • Eat light meals – Eat smaller meals more frequently

Of course, some of these are more difficult for persons who work outside and can’t take breaks often such as farmers, road construction crews, utility workers, outside maintenance persons, etc.

Children are at risk because they just want to have fun. Even though they may be at the pool staying wet, they are likely not taking time to get a drink, reapply sunscreen, or sit in the shade for a while. Send a cooler of cold water for them to drink and either snacks or money to buy snacks. Ask your local pool to make announcements reminding patrons to take a drink and reapply sunscreen.

If your loved ones have been in the heat and they are cranky, complaining of a headache, dizziness, nausea, or lightheadedness, or seem to be fatigued, these may be early warnings that they need to cool down and hydrate.

Also, applying sunscreen before going outside and then reapplying every 30 minutes will help prevent sunburn and discomfort. The SPF for children should be at least 30 to 50.

Keep in mind when the thermometer in your car reads 90 degrees or above, everything inside the vehicle is at least that temperature or hotter.

  • Roll the windows down and leave the doors open while getting the air conditioner going and getting everyone settled
  • Vinyl or leather seats, seat belt buckles, parts of the child car seat, etc. are hot and can cause burns
  • Place the swim towel over the seats to prevent burns
  • Develop a heat action plan to include places to go to cool off

Follow these guidelines to help keep summer fun and enjoyable without suffering heat-related emergencies.

Editorial Notes: This article was submitted for the "Weekend Check-Up," a regular health column in the Cowley CourierTraveler penned by employees and friends of William Newton Hospital. Contributor Teresa Sherrard, RN is William Newton Hospital’s Director of Occupational Health Services and works with hospital staff along with area business and industry.

Posted in Weekend Check-Up Column on Jun 26, 2024