Summer Outdoor Activities
Our bodies lose fluids from evaporation and sweating in hot weather, especially when we exercise. To avoid dehydration, it’s important to drink eight to ten glasses of water daily (and/or rehydration drinks). Watch for symptoms of dehydration, such as lightheadedness, a dry mouth, sticky saliva, dark yellow urine and infrequent urination.
Under the Sun
Exposure to the sun greatly increases your risk of skin cancer. Your skin will also age more quickly and you'll look older than you are. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 when you're in the sun. Apply it 15 minutes before going out and reapply according to the directions.
You can also protect yourself from the sun’s rays with long sleeves, loose clothes and a brimmed hat. Avoid the strongest rays of the day, which occur between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. If you do get burned, drink lots of water and cool down in a bath. For headaches, take aspirin or acetaminophen and lie down in a cool room. Lotion may help the itch of sunburn, but there's nothing you can do to stop the peeling.
On the Open Road
For that cross-country bike trip, get a helmet that fits right and wear it properly. Most bike-related deaths are from head injuries that could have been prevented by a helmet. Stay visible on your bike by using reflectors and lights at night. Be sure to use hand signals and obey the same traffic rules motorists do.
In the Wilderness
Conditions in the wilderness change rapidly and you can suddenly find yourself in a serious situation. Prepare for your outdoor adventures by bringing the following items with you:
- A map and compass
- A pocket knife
- Waterproof matches or lighter
- A flashlight
- A whistle
- Extra energy food
- Extra layers of clothes and a waterproof poncho
- Some money ($10)
- A space blanket
- A cellular phone
- First-aid items
- Aspirin or acetaminophen
- Antihistamine pills
- Band-Aids (lots), four-inch sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape
- A three-inch wide, Ace-type elastic bandage
Consider taking a Standard First Aid/CPR course or read a first-aid book to prepare. Study your travel area ahead of time. Identify inhabited areas where you can get help in advance.
In the Mountains
Regardless of your physical condition, it takes the body about 14 days to adjust to altitudes above 8,000 feet. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) appears within six hours of rapidly ascending to 8,000 feet, although it doesn't affect everyone every time. Start below that and walk up. If you're driving or flying, don't go higher than 8,000 feet in the first 24 hours. Take a rest day after every 3,000-foot climb.
AMS symptoms may include headache, fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite (or balance). If you get AMS, wait until symptoms decrease before going higher. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and take aspirin or ibuprofen for headache. If symptoms increase, return to lower elevations.
At high altitudes, eat lots of carbohydrates and drink three to four quarts of fluid a day. Avoid overexertion, tobacco, alcohol and other depressants as they can slow down your ability to acclimate to the altitude. A medicine called Daimox can prevent AMS.
Everyone at Vaden Health Center wishes you a safe and happy summer.