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Nevada County Picayune-Times - Prescott, AR
  • Betsy Cross: Tips to avoid ‘overdoing it’ this summer

  • This year, we didn’t get much of a winter, but summer is upon us just the same. Luckily, a little common sense and taking a few precautions can prevent things like sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

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  • It’s been said that if you can’t handle the winter, then you don’t deserve the summer.
    This year, we didn’t get much of a winter, but summer is upon us just the same. Longer days, cool nights, barbeques and the beach are what make summer the best season of the year for many people. For others, yard work, dirty kids with sunburns and bugs are what come to mind.
    As with most things, you’ve got to take the good with the bad; but there are a few simple things you can do to make your summer the best it can be.
    “Your body works hard every day, regardless of the season, to maintain a normal temperature,” says Juanita Allen Kingsley, a Certified Wilderness First Aid Instructor with the Natick (Mass.) VNA and Century Health Systems. “During the summer, excessive heat forces your body to work even harder, sometimes beyond its limits, and this can cause heat-related illness.”
    Luckily, a little common sense and taking a few precautions can prevent things like sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
    - Drink plenty of water. The easiest way to stay cool is also often the most overlooked. The heat can dehydrate you quickly, so make sure to have plenty of water on hand during the day, whether you’re outdoors or not.
    - Protect your skin. Use sunscreen every day, and reapply every two to three hours when you’re outside. It doesn’t take long to apply, and it can save you a lot of suffering later. Wear a hat to lessen sun exposure to the face and neck, two spots extremely vulnerable to contact with the sun.
    - Adjust strenuous activity and exercise. If you exercise regularly, try to do it early in the morning or later in the evening, when it’s cooler. Take regular breaks when possible if you have to work outdoors.
    - Take frequent breaks to cool down. Your body is working hard and needs time to recover. Sit down in the shade or go inside by a fan or air conditioner.
    - Check on your friends and family. The heat can be especially difficult for young children and the elderly, so make sure to check regularly on your family, friends and neighbors during hot spells.
    Kingsley also suggests a few more simple steps:
    - Always wear shoes or sandals to protect your feet.
    - Keep food stored safely in coolers or the refrigerator. When in doubt, throw it out!
    - Wear insect repellent.
    - Keep medications in a cool, dry place.
    - Watch alcohol consumption. It’s easy to drink more than you intended, and because alcohol is dehydrating, it can intensify the effects of the heat.
    Page 2 of 2 - So get out there and enjoy the season. Be safe, be smart and have fun!
    Betsy Cross is Director of Development for the Natick (Mass.) Visiting Nurse Association, a not-for-profit health care organization providing home care to thousands of people throughout MetroWest each year. For more information, call the Natick VNA at 508-653-3081.
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