May 12, 2005
Methodist Rehabilitation Center reminds Mississippians to 'think first' about travel safety, heat and sun exposure this summer
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON—Methodist Rehabilitation Center encourages summer travelers to stay healthy and keep cool during the upcoming summer months.
“The period between May and August is known as the trauma season because of the increased number of injuries that occur,” said Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehab. “Traumatic injuries peak during the summer months when families tend to travel more and because children are out of school and aren’t supervised as much.”
Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, the Jackson hospital’s statewide injury prevention program, reminds travelers to be prepared for injury and illness before leaving home.
Fairburn recommends packing a well-stocked first aid kit and refilling all necessary prescriptions before going on vacation.
A first aid kit should include:
- Children's acetaminophen
- Bandages, gauze and tape
- Pedialyte, for dehydration and diarrhea
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- Cold pack
- Aloe Vera lotion
- Topical antihistamine or anti-itch lotion
Exposure to intense summer heat should be limited because it can be dangerous and potentially life threatening.
Dr. Vohra recommends wearing light colored and loose fitting clothing, staying indoors during extreme heat and to never ignore the signs of heat stroke.
“A heat stroke occurs when a person’s body temperature rises. In an effort to lower the body temperature, the brain dilates all blood vessels in the skin,” said Dr. Vohra. “The skin usually appears red, hot and dry from dehydration.”
Dr. Vohra recommends cooling the victim as quickly as possible and taking them to a hospital. “Place a cool cloth or ice pack on the victim’s head and neck and begin massaging their extremities,” said Dr. Vohra. “Place ice on head and neck area first, followed by the armpits and groin.”
Dr. Vohra’s offers the following tips for staying safe during summer heat:
- Stay in a cool, well-ventilated area as much as possible during extreme heat.
- Avoid strenuous activities like running, biking and outside work during the hottest time of the day.
- Do not stay or leave anyone in closed, parked cars during hot weather.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid beverages with caffeine.
- Never bundle a baby in blankets or heavy clothing when outside in the heat. Sweat glands in infants are not well developed and they do not tolerate heat well.
Dr. Vohra also says that preventing serious sunburns and protecting skin from too much exposure to the sun, especially during summer months, is important in preventing skin cancer.
“Sunburns age skin and can cause cancer,” he said. “Always wear sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 and try to stay out of the sun when sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”
Fairburn recommends avoiding sun exposure and dressing infants under 6 months in lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats to prevent sunburn.
“If ample clothing and shade are not available, apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands”, adds Fairburn.