Summertime First Aid: A Review

by Rebecca Huber

Summertime used to mean slowing down. The image of sitting quietly on a screened-in front porch with a book and a glass of lemonade belongs to earlier decades. The picture of today's mainstream life is now one of rollerblades, street fairs, marathon runs­­ fast paced hard-driving athletes who don't slow down. We pack this in between work and increased activities at home of maintaining a yard and garden. Then we wonder why we're tired or feel stressed.

The top summertime emergencies are accidents. Drownings are right at the top of the list; others are falls causing fractures, cuts, sprains and concussions, heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and sunburn. There are other kinds of hazards waiting out there too­­ like poison ivy and other kinds of weed poisoning, bug bites and tick bites which can transfer serious life-threatening diseases such as Lyme Disease.

No, this isn't a warning to draw down the shades and stay inside! But there are practical measures that will help each of us have a safe and active summer while admiring the great outdoors.

We are truly accident prone when we are tired, fatigued or stressed. Ever notice that when your heart just isn't in it you just can't find your stride? This may be your bodies way of saying "hey not right now, give it a rest." Try taking a break from the routine of running or biking; feed yourself something nutritious, relax and see if the mood doesn't then strike you that a run would feel wonderful about now.

When you, a friend or loved one does find yourself injured or sick from summertime activities, here are some things to remember.

A major emergency may not appear as such on the surface. Time is of the essence. If there is any question about fracture, concussion, tick bite, or some kind of heat-related injury, don't wait. Seek medical help. Don't hesitate to call an ambulance and in the meantime make the individual as comfortable as possible. Don't worry too much about having the person in just the right position. If they are breathing, as comfortable as you can make them, and blood is not gushing everywhere, you've done the best you can.

For poison ivy and other kinds of weed exposure, wash the area with hot soapy water as soon as possible. This will help cut the oils that actually cause the redness and blistering. Burrow's solution can be purchased from the local drug store or there are some good homeopathic remedies available in the health food stores.

For muscles strains and sprains where the skin is unbroken use Arnica! It reduces pain, swelling and bruising. I wouldn't be without a supply of Arnica.

Sunburn continues to give up problems in spite of the good quality sun blockers on the market. Try a bath of baking soda followed by applications of vinegar which will help reduce the burning sensation. Aloe vera gel also works well to reduce pain and blistering.

Before you go in the woods protect yourself from insects­­ especially ticks­­ by covering all bare skin. Tuck pants inside of socks, wear long sleeves and, when returning, do tick checks. Shower, wash your hair, place your clothing in a hamper. If a tick is in the clothing, it will have crawled to the top by morning. Then you can safely remove it.

Do not remove a tick by burning or by placing ointment on it. Grasp the head of the tick firmly with tweezers and pull straight up! This is very important to keep the tick from possibly regurgitating infected blood into you. Don't forget your animals, they are susceptible too.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two different things. Many of us cannot keep them straight. Remember that if you are playing outside in high heat and humidity, take breaks frequently and drink lots of cool liquids. Retire from the activity at the first sign of overexertion. Seek medical help if your symptoms persist and you do not recover quickly.

Using common sense and caution during the summer months is the best way to keep yourself and your family safe.

In the meantime, stay cool! Rebecca.

Posted to Zephyr Online July 9, 1998
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