By Laura Garcia, program specialist with Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP)
GRAFENWOEHR – Summer can bring so many good times and memories. Getting together with friends to relax and enjoy the summer weather after being in the cold months can provide some much needed happiness. However, there summer can also bring with it unexpected medical emergencies, which can ruin those memories. Here are some things can ruin our get togethers. The best plan is to avoid these emergencies but being able to recognize and react to them can help.
- Sunburn: Although sunburns may not seem life threatening at first, prolonged exposure to the sun – without proper safety precautions – can cause long term health issues such as skin cancer and burn related damages. Additionally, over exposure to direct sunlight can cause injuries to both children and adults. The best prevention methods include using a sunscreen with a high SPF rating and limiting sun exposure between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remember to reapply sunscreen often during the day, especially if after sweating or swimming.
- Heat exhaustion: It is easy to underestimate the negative effects of sun and heat. Signs of heat exhaustion include clammy skin, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps, extreme thirst, excessive sweating, nausea, decreased urine output and confusion. Patients should seek shade, rehydrate and cool the body by loosening clothing and misting with cool water.
- Heat stroke: The next level of heat injury is heat stroke, and it proves a much greater danger if not addressed immediately. Symptoms can include a core body temperature of 102.2 degrees or higher – using a rectal thermometer – an altered mental state such a confusion, agitation or disorientation, flushed or reddened skin, dry skin, nausea or vomiting and rapid breathing. Similar to heat exhaustion, the treatment includes cooling the person down, hydration and a trip to the emergency room to avoid damage to internal organs.
- Binge drinking and alcohol abuse: Why is this important? Consuming too much alcohol is dangerous, because it can impair an individual’s thought process when recognizing safety issues. It can also lead to a faster rate of dehydration, which can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke sooner. Drinking non-alcoholic fluids is your best bet for keeping safe. For more tips on becoming alcohol aware, read this article.
The 2021 Summer Sense Campaign runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Every week, ASAP expects to bring the segments of the campaign to the small screen with videos and fun facts broadcasted via AFN TV. Then return to this article for the discussed recipes, quizzes and more.
Editor’s Note: Sidney Sullivan, with the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Public Affairs Office, contributed to this article.