Whether your summer vacation plans include jamming out to Lady Gaga by the pool or studying abroad, summer safety precautions are essential in order to have a pleasant, stress-free break.

 General heat safety— Soaking up the sun is one of the most relaxing ways to relieve stress during the summer, and your body benefits from the Vitamin D that moderate sun exposure provides.  However, too much sun exposure can damage your skin, cause skin cancer and put your health in danger.  In order to enjoy the sun safely, consider the following tips:

  • Wear sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or higher.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat (not a baseball cap, which only protects the face) in order to further protect your skin from damaging sun exposure and to keep your face and head cool. 
  • Carry water with you at all times, and try to take drinks as frequently as every 15 minutes.
  • Continually take numerous breaks in the shade or a cool environment.

Even Lady Gaga knows the importance of limiting sun exposure.

Heat illnesses—overexposure to the sun can lead to a variety of illnesses. 

  • Heat exhaustion occurs when a person experiences heavy perspiration with normal body temperatures.  It is often mistaken for the flu.  Symptoms can include:
    • Dizziness
    • Heavy perspiration
    • Normal or above normal body temperature
    • Clammy skin
    •  Rapid pulse 

This is usually caused by lack of fluids while working or exercising in hot temperatures.  If someone is experiencing the symptoms of heat exhaustion, he or she should drink plenty of cold water, move to a shaded area, and call for medical help if necessary

  •  Heat cramps are painful muscular spasms the usually affect abdominal or leg muscles.  They typically occur after physical activity in people who sweat a lot or have not had enough fluids.  If someone is experiencing heat cramps, he or she should move to a shaded area, drink plenty of fluids, and stretch the affected muscles. 
  •  Heat stroke is a serious illness in which your body can build up too much heat, your temperature may rise to severe levels, and you can become delirious or lose consciousness.  Symptoms include:
    • the victim’s body feeling very hot when touched
    • very high body temperature
    • an altered mental status
    • irritability and/or aggression
    • seizures
    • in extreme cases, victims may slip into a coma 

If someone is experiencing heat stroke, he or she should be moved to a shaded area and placed in a sitting position, emergency medical help should be called, and the victim should be sprayed with water, fanned, and provided with ice packs if necessary.  

Summer + alcohol—Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics and can contribute to heat exhaustion and dehydration.  Drinking alcohol can also affect your judgment, so you may not realize if you are experiencing symptoms of heat-related illnesses.  If drinking alcohol in high temperatures,

  • Stay hydrated by also drinking non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages like water and sports drinks.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after drinking alcohol.

 For more information, visit the National Safety Council’s website, www.nsc.org  

What’s your favorite way to stay cool?