It’s officially the season for cookouts, camping and beach trips, but did you know emergency room visits spike this time of year? Here are tips to avoid summer’s major health risks and stay safe.

Heat stroke – The most dangerous heat-related disorder, heat stroke can cause the body temperature to rise above 106 degrees and, if untreated, can cause permanent injury or death. It can occur in as little as 10 to 15 minutes when exposed to extreme heat. Symptoms include:

  • Hot, dry skin or abnormal sweating.
  • Throbbing headache.
  • Confusion, dizziness, and slurred speech.

If you suspect heat stroke, call 911, move the person into an air-conditioned or shaded area, and apply a cool, wet cloth to the forehead or neck. Avoid heat stroke by:

  • Wearing light, breathable clothing.
  • Scheduling time outdoors for the coolest parts of day.
  • Limiting exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Drinking enough water that you are never thirsty, approximately one cup every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Avoid alcohol and drinks full of caffeine or sugar.

Child safety – Summer is a great time to be a kid, but between May and September children are almost twice as likely to end up in the emergency room. Many of their injuries could be easily prevented. Make sure your children follow these guidelines for a safe summer vacation:

  • Wear the right gear. Helmets save lives and proper pads prevent broken bones and other traumatic injuries. Make sure your child is wearing appropriate, properly fitting equipment whether in the half pipe, on the field, in a rink or on a bike.
  • Keep kids active and supervised. Lack of supervision and boredom is a dangerous mix. While summer is an important time for your child to relax away from the pressure of school, too much downtime can be a problem. Summer camps are a great way to keep children active, social and safe while out of school.
  • Limit screen time. Keeping kids engaged in summer camps, sports or other activities can also help reduce the amount of time they spend on computers, smartphones and television. Overuse of these forms of entertainment can lead to obesity, depression, sleep disorders and eye problems.

Alcohol consumption – A hot dog and a beer is a summer classic at ball games and cookouts. While you can have adult beverages in moderation, know that alcohol can sometimes cause otherwise fun activities to take a dangerous turn, causing:

  • Dehydration. A cold beer on a hot day may seem like it’s quenching your thirst, but it’s doing the opposite, decreasing production of anti-diuretic hormone used by the body to reabsorb water and causing dehydration.
  • Impaired judgment and coordination. Alcohol affects your ability to do things like swim or operate machinery (even a lawnmower), and compromises the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.

This summer, consider swapping your beer or mixed drink for a fun, non-alcoholic alternative. If you are drinking, remember to eat food and drink plenty of water at the same time.

In Case of an Emergency

If you or someone with you does need emergency care this summer, the emergency departments (ED) at Kent and Memorial hospitals can see you quickly. For more information please visit Kent Hospital Emergency Medicine or Memorial Hospital Emergency Care.