Common summer health hazards
Summer remains a favourite season for many Australians. The sun is shining, the beach awaits your return and holiday mode is in the air. Unfortunately, along with these perks comes some potential hazards that are synonymous with the summer heat. We talk you through some of the biggest dangers of summer, how to avoid them and how to treat them if the situation arises.
Spider and insect bites
As the weather warms up in Australia, the creepy crawlies emerge. The bees are buzzing, the mosquitos are swarming, and the spiders always come for an uninvited visit.
If you experience a bite of any kind, clean the bite with an antiseptic such as Stingose or RapidAid First Aid Spray and use ice to help with swelling. Taking an antihistamine can help reduce allergic reaction and further swelling and you can use paracetamol to treat pain.
If you are unsure of what has bitten you, it’s recommended to monitor your bite and keep an eye out for further swelling, discharge and redness. If your bite worsens over 24-48 hours, it is best to visit your doctor or emergency as soon as possible.
If you are allergic to any bees, wasps or insects, always remember to keep an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) with you.
If you are ever in the presence of someone having an anaphylactic reaction, ask them or check their belongings for an EpiPen, and follow these simple steps.
- Lay the person flat.
- Hold the adrenaline autoinjector firm in your fist and pull off the blue safety release.
- Hold the leg still and place the orange end against the outer mid-thigh. You can give the injection through clothing.
- Push down hard until you hear or feel a click.
- Hold for 3 seconds.
- Remove the adrenaline autoinjector.
- Call an ambulance and continue to follow anaphylaxis first aid.1
Ensure you inject them immediately and then call 000 straight afterward. If in doubt, remember the phrase ‘Blue to the sky, orange in the thigh’.
Sunburn in Australia
In the harsh Australian sun, even the most sun-safe skin can get burned. Did you know it only takes an average of 15 minutes for your skin to burn?
The sun doesn’t have to be beaming down to burn you, those UV rays can still do damage to your skin even on the most overcast days.
No matter how serious your sunburn is, it is still causing irreversible damage to your skin, and with this damage comes the risk of skin cancer.
Sunscreen is the number 1 preventative for avoiding sunburn. With the beach culture engrained in us, why do 2.4 million Australians still get burnt each year?2
Here are some easily forgotten sunscreen tips that may help you avoid burn this summer!
- Our shelves are saturated with 60+, 50+, 30+ and even 15+ factor options, remember – the higher the better! These factors have increased over the years due to our Australian sun growing harsher and the progressive awareness of UVA and UVB rays. 50+ will block out 98% of UV rays and 30+ will block out 96.7%.3
- Your sunscreen will usually last 4 hours after applying. If you’re going for a swim, re-apply immediately after jumping out of the water – even the most waterproof sunscreens can struggle to reach their intended time, especially in the ocean.
- Wait 20 minutes after applying sunscreen before venturing into the sun!
- There are two different types of sunscreens – Chemical and Natural. Some people run for the hills at the mention of natural sunscreen with the question, ‘does it actually work?’ The answer is yes! Natural or mineral sunscreen works by sitting on the top layer of the skin and reflecting the sun away like a mirror. These sunscreens include ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium dioxide, healthier alternatives to chemical sunscreen and are perfect for sensitive skins. Chemical sunscreen sinks into the skin and absorbs the UV rays, forming a chemical reaction in your skin to dissipate the UV rays. This is why it’s important to wait 20 minutes after you apply!
- Apply liberally! You may resemble a ghost for a quick minute after slip, slop slapping but making sure you are fully covered will prevent those weird streaky burns that we all love to hate.
The first thing that often springs to mind when you mention Australia is ‘Hot’. With heatwaves sweeping our country regularly during the summer months, it is more important than ever to keep hydrated. Everyone is at risk of dehydration, but some individuals are more at risk than others.
You may be of increased risk if –
- You are over the age of 75
- You have existing medical conditions such as high or low blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory or circulation issues
- You are overweight
- You work outdoors
Dehydration can happen even when the weather isn’t scorching. Warmer days create the perfect environment for outdoor activities and forgetting to hydrate can often leave us feeling parched. Always remember to try and keep up your fluids before you start to feel thirsty.
Oral rehydration aid such as Hydralyte or Gastrolyte can help your body retain important electrolytes for hydration such as sodium, potassium magnesium and chloride. These electrolytes play an important role in keeping you hydrated, keeping your body’s pH regular and preventing your muscles from cramping.
Common signs of dehydration are dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, dark yellow urine, loss of appetite and fainting.4
If you start to feel any of these symptoms worsen, call your doctor or nearest emergency department.
Looking after yourself in the summer heat is important for everyone, but don’t let this dampen the fun! These handy summer tips will keep you in the know for summer and prepared to tackle any issues if they arise.
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