While enjoying outdoor time today with family and friends it’s a good time to remind kids and caretakers about nature health hazards. While the kids are running around in the grass and sun or splashing in the pool, be mindful off some plants and situations that can cause little ones (and big ones) illness, doctor visits, and no fun. A little vigilance at the beginning of summer can mean fun all summer.
After a long winter hibernation, it can be tempting to soak up as much sun as possible during a day at the beach or a picnic in the park, but experts warn that even a single sunburn can do lasting damage to the skin.
To enjoy the sun safely, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, which has an SPF of 30 or higher. Babies should always be in the shade, wear a hat, and be protected with baby formulated sunblock. Toddlers and younger children need hats, too. Thinner hair doesn’t protect the scalp from sunburn.
Additionally, experts advise seeking shade from 10a.m. to 2p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Unfortunately water and sand can amplify the sun’s rays, so be extra-careful during trips to the beach. And be sure to reapply sun block every two hours or after taking a dip in the ocean or pool.
One consequence of enjoying the great outdoors is being assailed by various stinging and biting insects that only a beekeeper outfit could keep at bay.
While many of these insects are merely a nuisance, for people who are allergic, they pose a clear and even deadly threat to their health. The American College of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology estimates that 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings. That includes people who are at risk of having a potentially fatal reaction to the venom of certain insects.
More than 500,000 Americans end up in the hospital every year due to insect stings and bites, and they cause at least 50 known deaths a year.
Richard Pollack, a public health entomologist and instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, says it’s imperative for those who are allergic to insect stings to carry around an epi-pen, which can be used to easily inject epinephrine to help ease a severe allergic reaction.
Ticks will be actively looking for a host to feed off. Ticks can carry multiple diseases, including Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In extremely rare cases their saliva can even lead to temporarily paralysis. Always check your outdoor pets when they come in for ticks. Apply monthly flea and tick killer. It may also be a good idea to treat your house for pet pests periodically.
Insect repellent works but is not recommended for very young children. Insect repellent wristbands are a new product that is having success. Also available but less convenient are clip on insect repellent sticks.
While enjoying a picnic or barbecue is one of the great traditions of Memorial Day weekend, getting ill from spoiled potato salad or a rotten deviled egg is one of the worst.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 48 million Americans become sick with food poisoning every year. Reactions to spoiled food can result in nausea, vomiting, fever or diarrhea.
To avoid any dietary mishaps this holiday, the CDC recommends that foods prone to spoiling not be kept unrefrigerated for more than two hours, one hour in extremely hot weather, and that meat is cooked to the proper temperature.
The United States Department of Agriculture even has a website dedicated to grilling safely, which explains the correct temperature for all your favorite summer meals.
A hiking trip can be a great way to celebrate the long holiday weekend, but one brush with poison ivy and a fun holiday excursion can turn excruciating.
While many people know to avoid poison ivy’s infamous “leaves of three,” the American Academy of Family Physicians says if people accidentally swipe the plant they can quickly wash the skin with soap and water to help minimize effects. The oily sap of the plant contains urushiol, which bonds to the skin after a few minutes of contact and over the next few days will result in an itchy-blistered rash.
If you end up one of the unfortunate ones who didn’t spot the plant in time, you can use one of the recommended over-the-counter medications such as a hydrocortisone cream, Calamine lotion, an antihistamine or an oatmeal bath to ease the symptoms.
For those with pollen allergies, spending Memorial Day outdoors can mean suffering through a host of unpleasant allergy symptoms from sneezing to itchy watery eyes.
In some states the summer grass season is already gearing up before the spring tree pollen season has fully ended. Anyone allergic to both kinds of pollen should consider staying inside for the long weekend.
However, Dr. Andy Nish, a Georgia-based allergist and fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says people should try to avoid being out in the mornings if they have particularly bad reactions to grass pollen since the pollen count is usually highest during the early hours. Additionally, anyone who has allergies and is attending a barbecue may want to stay away from the grill.
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