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It’s Not All Fun in the Sun; Program Offers Summer Health and Safety Tips

Sherry Alexander, family medicine nurse practitioner at Hill Country Memorial, will lead a free summer health and safety presentation at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at Inman’s Kitchen, 809 W. Young St. in Llano.

LLANO — Summer signals barbecues, time on the water, and outdoor activities — all in the sun. If you aren’t careful, however, that same sun can put you in dire straits.

To help you understand the threats, Sherry Alexander, family medicine nurse practitioner at Hill Country Memorial, will lead a free summer health and safety presentation at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at Inman’s Kitchen, 809 W. Young St. A free dinner will be served. Call (866) 421-4264 to reserve a spot.

Alexander understands the temptations some have of simply spending the day outdoors without being properly prepared. She advises that people wear sunglasses with UV protection as well as protective clothing and keep sunscreen and plenty of water with them when they know they’ll be outdoors for an extended period of time.

And, the earlier they can start their outdoor activity, the better, she added. The hottest part of the day is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s not a good idea,” she said about being outside during that time. “I play tennis and garden, but not in the peak heat of the day.”

Wearing sunscreen helps protect against skin cancer, so Alexander definitely recommends people, especially children, use it.

“The younger children are more at risk of lifetime damage than (older) children and adults,” she said. “Wrinkling increases, melanoma increases with more sun. Cataracts increase.”

Experts also recommend people drink six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Alexander said you shouldn’t replace water with sports or energy drinks, which are loaded with sugar, sodium, and caffeine.

“That adds to dehydration and stress,” she said.

A good indication of whether your body is hydrated is the color of your urine. The lighter the color, the more hydrated you are. A dark color is your signal to grab some water, she said.

Alexander was surprised to hear from colleagues about the number of people they saw who needed medical help because they didn’t drink enough water during a hot day spent hiking. Some hadn’t acclimatized during the spring, meaning they hadn’t spent enough time outside getting their bodies adjusted to warming temperatures.

“They took the climb in extreme heat,” Alexander said, adding she believes most only had one bottle of water instead of a backpack filled with bottles.

The sun can also dry out the skin. Without proper hydration, people can get into trouble. Another summer issue is insect bites and stings.

Alexander offers a home remedy of baking soda paste that people can apply to ant bites after they wash the area and recommends sufferers of wasp or scorpion stings not squeeze the area. Instead, pull out the stinger.

“(When squeezing) you’re just injecting more poison,” she said. “Washing the site with soapy water, you’re less likely to get infected.”

For the itch, she recommends hydrocortisone cream.

She’ll also talk about water safety during the presentation and will be available for a question-and-answer session.

Call (866) 421-4264 for more information about the program.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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