Summer safety

Published by rudy Date posted on April 29, 2009

Summer means enjoying your health and basking in your vitality: staying out in the sun, swimming amid waves, trekking through mountains forests, long road trips with friends, drinking under stars and picnics by the beach. Sadly this can also mean a summer ruined by sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion, near drowning and jellyfish stings, mosquito bites, dengue and malaria, road accidents and diarrhea.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), the public should exercise vigilance for a number of health risks that usually come this season. Besides heat stroke, sunburns and the usual beach dangers, the DOH said that people should also be on the look out for mosquito borne diseases as well as those that are caused by poor hygiene. 

According to Dr. Mark Stibich, a physician and a researcher who has worked in several parts of the globe, leading health risks also included incidents such as drowning and, surprisingly, driving accidents.

Dengue and malaria

Documenting over 6,400 nationwide cases of dengue from January to April last year, the department believes that people should dispel certain notions that dengue is more prevalent during the rainy seasons. According to the DOH, the aedes egypti mosquitoes that carry the virus breed rapidly in areas with stagnant waters. In an advisory, it also mentioned that incubation period of dengue on a victim’s body during these times runs only at about two days compared to rainy season that sometimes runs for about five days. This of course, heightens the danger of the said disease.

Read travel advisories and news bulletins on which destinations have outbreaks. Avoid trekking through areas with stagnant water.

Diarrhea, cholera and food poisoning

Picnics, outings and beach parties, while staples in the usual vacation agenda, may end up disastrously if not managed properly. Improper food storage and poor sanitation habits may cause typhoid fever, cholera and other diarrheas.

Store foodstuffs in sealed containers. Bring only foods that will keep fresh in the summer heat. Maintain a clean environment.

Sunburn, heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Short-term dangers from overexposure to the sun include sunburn and dehydration. Long term effects of repeated sun damage include melanoma and cataracts.

According to the DOH, heat-related risks can also be avoided by avoiding skin exposure for more than three hours. Ultraviolet protection can be in the form of sun block lotions, sunglasses, hats and shawls. People should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Stibich also suggested that as soon as a person shows sign of heatstroke—shallow breathing, fast pulse, red skin and lack of sweat and confusion—one should immediately call for medical assistance. Heatstroke, a malfunction of the body that puts the person in mortal danger, necessitates immediate action that must be taken to cool down the victim by bringing him or her to a cool shady area, removing warm clothing dousing the body with cool water, most especially the hottest parts of the body such as the armpits and the groin.

Drunk driving and road accidents

Fatigue can dangerously dull the reflexes of drivers. Extreme exhaustion and sleep deprivation can even cause drivers to fall asleep on the wheel.

Stibich emphasizes not to drink and drive and to limit road trips to reasonable lengths. Rest stops and bringing along coffee, snacks and refreshing wet towels can boost a motorist’s alertness.

Drowning, sea urchin and jellyfish stings

Stibich said that regular beach dangers like drowning can be eluded simply by following safety regulations. Knowing and respecting the limits in swimming areas are a definite necessity to avoid tragedies.

 Blankets dampened with alcohol can help draw out jellyfish stings. Vinegar and other acidic liquids can dissolve sea urchin spikes. Ask locals and resort staff which beach areas are safe from stinging jellyfish and sea urchins.

Regardless how many dangers come with the season, you shouldn’t let it ruin your summer especially since, according to Stibich and the DOH, a mere exercise of caution and common sense are enough to keep you safe.  –Angelo Cantera, Reporter, Manila Times

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