Summer fun can end quickly if you get sick, injured, sunburned or covered in bug bites. Here are some lesser-known health tips from Dr. Jessica Bowers, an internal medicine specialist in Suffolk, and Dr. Kevin Wolf, a family medicine practitioner in Newport News.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Reapply both: Use a sun product with an SPF of 15 or higher, and an insect repellant with the ingredients DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or 2-undecanone. Slather on sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure and repeat at least every two hours, or every hour if you're sweating, in water, or outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Bug spray shouldn't be a one-and-done job, either. How often to reapply depends on the brand and active ingredients, so be sure to read product labels. Another tip: Mosquitoes are more attracted to darker colors, so wear light-colored clothing.
Outdoor Food Safety: Don't just worry about mayonnaise and meat. Produce is an overlooked source of food poisoning. Sliced raw onions and potatoes, for example, can quickly soak up bacteria once their outer skin layers are gone. Wash all fruit and vegetables before cutting or eating, and don't leave anything out for more than two hours in room temperature. If it's a very hot day — say, above 90 degrees — don't eat unrefrigerated foods after an hour. Always err on the side of caution, as contaminated foods may not look or smell funny.
Boating Safety: Have a "man overboard" plan. Along with packing life jackets, avoiding alcohol and checking weather forecasts in advance, discuss what to do if someone does fall into the water. Assign one person to keep the victim in sight at all times, while pointing to that location. Maneuver the boat downwind in case the person drifts, shut off engines and throw a brightly colored, buoyant object such as a life ring to keep the victim afloat and visible. Don't jump in the water because a panicked person can easily drown a would-be rescuer.
Lawnmowers: Keep paths clear of obstacles. Mower accidents send tens of thousands of people to emergency rooms each year. "Obstacles" include kids, pets and yard debris such as sticks, stones and small toys that become dangerous projectiles if sucked up and thrown out by mower blades. Make sure young children and animals are with an adult who knows you're mowing, so they don't wander outside. Don't mow if it's too dark to see clearly, and wear safety goggles and closed-toe, non-slip shoes.
Heat Illness: Know the true signs of trouble. Drinking plenty of water or electrolyte sports drinks, steering clear of diuretics — caffeine, alcohol and laxatives — and taking regular breaks in air conditioning will help you stay well. With mild symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea or headache, immediately move to a cool environment and rehydrate. Heat stroke is a different animal: Watch for hot and dry skin, confusion and changes in consciousness, and a body temperature of 104 or higher. Those are signs of a true medical emergency — call 911.