Summer Safety

Summer Safety

Summer is quickly approaching which means more time in the sun with family and friends. Spending time outdoors is great for your health. The sun allows you to build up your Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), the fresh air helps relieve stress, and who doesn’t look better with a bit of a tan?

Too much a good thing can be hazardous. It’s important to keep in mind some simple summer precautions that will ensure a happy and healthy season.

Tip #1: Make sure to wear sunscreen.

Spray-ons are great for kids and teens compared to lotion/oily sunscreens. Always check the SPF (sun protection factor) when choosing sunscreen. According to the American Dermatology Association, always choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection, SPF of 30 or higher, and water resistant. They also recommend re-applying every 2 hours when outdoors, seek shade whenever your shadow is shorter than you are, wear lightweight clothing, hats, and sunglasses.

Tip #2: Protect yourself from bugs.

Everyone hates mosquito bites and it doesn’t help that mosquitoes can carry diseases such as Lyme and Zika. To protect yourself and your loved ones from getting eaten up this summer, be sure to wear bug repellent that contains DEET. Other tips include staying away from standing water, avoid being outside at dusk/dawn, and wear light colored clothing (bright and floral patterns attract wasps and bees) that covers arms and legs.

Tip #3: Practice proper water safety.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation, at least 148 children under the age of 15 drowned between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2018. 163 children under 15 drowned in swimming pools or spas. Texas tied (with Florida) having the most number of drownings in pools or spas last year – 21. A few things to remember when spending time around water:

1. NEVER leave a child unattended near or in the water

2. Teach children to swim and learn to swim yourself if you don’t know how

3. Do not drink alcohol before or while using water crafts or swimming

4. Know CPR for children and adults. You never know when you may be able to save a life.

Tip #4: Avoid a heat-related illness.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying indoors in air-conditioning and limit outdoor exposure during very hot days. If you find yourself getting overheated, the CDC offers these steps to help cool you down.

1. Drink more liquid (non-alcoholic) than you think you need.

2. Wear loose, lightweight clothing and a hat

3. Replace salt from sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks

4. Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, 11am – 3pm

5. Wear sunscreen; sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself

6. Pace yourself when you run or otherwise exert your body.

If you feel you may be getting overheated or think someone else is, call 911 immediately, and try to move indoors where it is cooler. Cool wet towels placed around the neck will help allow the body to begin cooling down, but always listen to the 911 operator on what to do while waiting for paramedics. Heatstroke can be fatal if not addressed right away.

Summer is a great time of year to enjoy longer days spent outside surrounded by nature and those you enjoy most. Please take the necessary precautions to ensure that this year will be the best one yet.

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Have a Heart ❤️

Have a Heart ❤️

February is National Heart Month.  The Center for Disease Control tells us that approximately 610,000 Americans die from heart related deaths each year.  Heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women.  What can we do to lower these statistics? 

It may take a little research or a conversation with parents or elders in your family to find out who has had heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and even diabetes.  All these ailments can cause damage to the heart muscle.  Even if your family has had a clean bill of heart health, other factors such as thyroid disease, chemotherapy, poor diet, lack of exercise and heavy alcohol consumption can also contribute to heart disease. 

Early symptoms of heart disease can be barely noticeable or ignored completely.   Get regular check ups with your primary care doctor or cardiologist.  Contact your doctor if you feel any pain, pressure, or discomfort.  Chest pain isn’t always a tell-tell sign of a heart attack so be sure to tell your doctor if you have experienced any of the following:

  • Pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath when active, at rest, or while lying flat
  • Chest pain during physical activity that gets better when you rest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, stomach, and/or neck
  • Reduced ability to exercise or be physically active
  • Problems doing your normal activities

To improve your heart health start by taking these steps:

  • Increase your physical activity.  Start with something you enjoy like taking a brisk walk, biking, dancing, walking during your golf game, bowling, etc.
  • If you smoke, quit.  Smoking leads to hardening of the artery walls which causes heart disease. Quitting later in life will still have some benefit and will lower your chance of getting cancer.
  • Follow a heart healthy diet which includes lots of fruits, vegetable, whole grains, and less sugar and salt.
  • Keep a healthy weight.  If you are wondering what a healthy weight should be, click here.
  • Keep your diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure under control.  Be sure to take all your medications prescribed by your doctor as directed.

Unfortunately, heart disease is not just a condition for adults.  1 in 100 infants and children are diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease.  Most congenital heart defects are holes or leaky valves.  Although, there are more serious defects such as heart valve defects, problems with the heart walls, issues with the heart not pumping correctly, and bad valve connections.  Treatment for some defects can be managed with surgery, medications, or other procedures.  You will need to be under the care of a cardiologist for regular check ups. 

If you or someone you know is expecting or plan to become pregnant, encourage them to talk to their doctor around the 20 week mark for possible testing of CHD.   

For more information on heart disease causes and prevention, please click on the links below:

American Heart Association    www.heart.org

National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute    www.nhlbi.nih.gov

National Institute of Health     www.nia.nih.gov/health/heart-health-and-aging

Center for Disease Control   www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Web MD                               www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/congenital-heart-disease#1

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta    www.choa.org/heart