Summer Safety Summer – there’s arguably no better time to get out in search of new experiences and rediscovering all our province has to offer, reminding ourselves why we live here in the first place. But before people dive headfirst into this sunny season, it’s important to pause and remember the importance of doing it safely. With that in mind, we’ve prepared some helpful hints and tips that will help you get the most out of summer. Sun and Heat Safety While it’s important for everyone to take the necessary precautions whenever heading outside for some fun in the sun, it’s especially critical for children. Babies are most susceptible to the risks of exposure to the sun, not just because of their sensitive skin but also because they can’t tell you if they’re too hot or if the sun is too bright. Depending on the time of day, conditions and the level of ultraviolet radiation – or UV rays – it only takes 15 minutes or so to develop a sunburn. The UV Index is a helpful tool to protect yourself from the sun. It can be easily accessed on any weather service website and the general rule of thumb is the higher the number, the higher the risk. It’s also important to remember that skin cancer is – by far the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in our country, about one in every three cancer diagnoses, and rates are continuing to rise steadily every year. Overexposure to the sun as a child can also lead to the development of skin cancer later in life. Your best defence against the sun is to apply a quality, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or more 15 minutes before going outside and re-applying at regular intervals throughout the day. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing and a pair of sunglasses equipped with UVA and AVB protection are all good precautions to take as well. Here are a few more tips to keep you and your child sun safe this season (Source: Health Canada, Canadian Cancer Society): Use a water-resistant sunscreen and remember to re-apply more frequently if you’re swimming, drying yourself off with a towel or sweating heavily. Remember to apply sunscreen in those easy-to-forget areas, like your ears, nose, neck, back and the tops of your feet. Also consider trying a sunscreen lip balm as well. The sun’s UVB rays (the radiation that causes most sunburns) is most prominent from around 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so try to limit your exposure when the sun is most intense. Keep babies under one year of age out of direct sunlight to prevent skin damage and dehydration. Never let them play or sleep in the sun. Keep babies in the shade, under a tree, an umbrella, or a canopy. Never leave children (or your pets) in a parked vehicle. If you or your child receives a sunburn, you should immediately remove the person from the sun. Tree-shaded areas are typically 5 to 9 degrees cooler than direct sunlight. When treating a sunburn, avoid creams or lotions that may hold heat inside the skin or may contain numbing medication (i.e. benzocaine or lidocaine). Aloe gel can be used. Heat-related illness All of us are susceptible to the impact of extreme heat, although seniors, children and people with underlying health conditions are most at-risk of severe complications from prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Heat stroke typically sets in when your body temperature climbs to 40 C or above. Hot air, heat from the sun and hot surfaces can all increase body temperature to dangerous levels. We can cool our body temperature through contact with cold air and by producing sweat, which evaporates and cools us down. Some of the main forms of heat illness include: heat edema (swelling of hands, feet, and ankles), heat rash, heat cramps (muscle cramps), heat fainting, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. There are two basic rules to follow to mitigate the risk of heat illness – drink plenty of water before you get thirsty and stay cool. It’s important to remember that thirst is a poor indicator of dehydration, so the more water you consume, the better off you’ll be. Here are a few additional tips to follow (Source: Health Canada): Be prepared for extreme heat If you have air conditioning, make sure it is working properly. Fans and ceiling fans work as well, but only in lower humidity. Monitor the weather forecast closely. If you’re on the go, have plenty of water or cold drinks on-hand. Know the signs of heat illness. If you develop any of the following symptoms, move to a cool place and drink plenty of water right away: dizziness or fainting nausea or vomiting headache rapid breathing and heartbeat extreme thirst (dry mouth or sticky saliva) decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine changes of behaviour in children (like sleepiness or temper tantrums) Alcohol – including beer – isn’t a substitute for water and will not keep you hydrated. If you are enjoying alcoholic beverages responsibly, make sure to drink plenty of water along with it. In addition to drinking water, consider eating some fruit as well, as many fruits will help you stay hydrated. If you plan on being outside during extreme heat, make sure you take plenty of breaks from any physical activity and find a cool, shaded area. Keep your house cool! Avoid cooking meals in the oven. Consider opening the windows at night to allow cooler air inside. It may not be good for your power bill but using fans in addition to air conditioning is a great way to circulate air and cool your home in a hurry. Close your curtains or blinds during the day to prevent sunlight from getting in. Consider taking cooler showers. Heat stroke is a severe heat illness and qualifies as a medical emergency. Call 911 and cool/hydrate the person immediately if these symptoms are present: High body temperature Confusion and lack of coordination Dizziness/fainting No sweating, but very hot, red skin Water Safety There’s nothing like plunging into a swimming pool on a hot summer day. But wherever there’s water, there’s also danger, and it’s critical that everyone – regardless of age – exercises caution. The Canadian Red Cross stresses that the best way to ensure water safety is – first and foremost – by making sure you know how to swim and getting your child into swimming lessons at a young age. In addition to being a strong swimmer, however, it’s also incredibly important to know what to do in the event of a water-related emergency. Being prepared and taking preventative steps in advance of your pool or beach day can be the difference between life and death. With that, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to water safety this summer (Source: Health Canada, Canadian Red Cross): The majority of child drownings occur when there is no adult supervision. Whenever kids are near water, there needs to be an adult present. Make sure novice swimmers are wearing a life jacket with a proper fit. Always enter a body of water, including a pool, feet first. The only time it is ever safe to dive into the water is if you have proper training combined with at least 10 to 12 feet of water depth with clear visibility, like in the designated area of an aquatics centre. When swimming in a natural body of water, never underestimate the power of moving water and always beware of rip currents. A rip current can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. If you get caught in a rip, remain calm, conserve your energy and swim sideways (parallel to the shore) to get out of it rather than trying to swim directly back to shore. Hydration and Nutrition Hydration Our bodies need proper levels of fluids to keep going. Being active and enjoying warmer weather can make that challenging. According to Health Canada, everyone’s hydration needs vary. And, while everyone may not need to drink eight glasses of water every day, we all need to ensure we are getting enough fluids. To avoid dehydration, practice the following: 1. Drink water, milk, and other healthy beverages. Limit your caffeine intake. 2. Do not wait until you are thirsty. Drink often. Keep a water bottle or glass handy. 3.Watch for signs of dehydration: Feeling tired or lightheaded Headaches Having trouble concentrating Dry mouth or lips Dark-coloured urine If someone thinks they are dehydrated, they should act right away. Dehydration can lead to lowered blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting. This can put older adults at a greater risk of falling, resulting in injury. Proper hydration also helps people get maximum benefit from their medications. Nutrition While it is common for appetites to decrease when it gets hot outside, it’s still important we are fueling our bodies. Here are some ways to stimulate your appetite: Choose quick and easy foods like raw vegetables and whole fruit Have a picnic outside in the shade Find a cool spot inside to eat Start your day earlier with a hearty breakfast Switch your grocery shopping time from mid day to evening Plan to dine with friends. Make it a potluck event! Eating well is essential for good health at any age. For children, nutrition supports growth and development. For adults, balanced diets help maintain strength and energy, and prevent disease and illness. Older adults may not eat well for a variety of reasons including lack of time or resources to buy and prepare food, not feeling hungry, no longer enjoying eating, as well as uncomfortably warm weather. Gillian, a registered dietitian, shared a few simple and nutritious recipes that promote both proper nourishment and hydration. Fruit salad is a great way to incorporate vitamins and minerals into your diet. Did you know fruits with a high-water content are a great source of hydration? Check it out in this article from Canada’s food guide. Sandwiches are an easy way to pack extra vegetables into your diet. Check out this recipe for a colourful veggie and hummus sandwich. For a cool treat, try this frozen yogurt bark that will satisfy your sweet tooth (and is easy to make)! With older adults, early recognition of poor eating habits is essential for maintaining good health. When older adults do not eat well, they can quickly become malnourished and feel tired, dizzy, and unwell. Eating poorly can affect older adults in other ways. Our risk of falling increases as we age. When our strength and energy decrease, the risk of falling increases. The potential of serious injury or hospitalization can increase as well. If you or someone you know is not eating well, Horizon encourages you to contact your local hospital or health clinic’s Clinical Nutrition department. Make an appointment with a Horizon outpatient dietician to discuss your nutritional needs. No referral is required.