Spending time outdoors improves our memory, productivity, creativity, and concentration! We discussed this in Outdoor Well-Being, making the summer months perfect for taking advantage of warm temperatures, bright sunshine, and fresh air. As with most things that can improve our overall well-being, however, there is a certain level of awareness required to enjoy the perks without experiencing the side effects. More time outdoors means more potential for heat emergencies, bug bites, stings, and other injuries.
A Safe Summer Outdoors
These possibilities are not cause for avoiding the outdoors; however, they provide reason for us to become more aware of our environment. While local weather patterns, your current health (allergies!), and safety considerations are all things to consider to feel totally confident in your time outside, it’s important to be prepared for uncomfortable or dangerous situations!
Heat is unpredictable, as it’s not just the temperature that plays a role in experiencing a heat emergency. Having a safe summer in the sun is more than staying indoors when it’s too hot. It is taking preventive steps daily to reduce your risk– being aware of a situation in the moment, as well as acting fast if it turns for the worse! Reference the image below for information on heat exhaustion and heat stroke – emergencies that can lead to long-term damage, including death (heat stroke).
They’re no fun. From the burn, the itchiness, and of course, the potential for disease. Bites and stings can happen anytime, but the summer heat makes them more prevalent. There are three basics to remember:
AVOID – The first step in treatment is to actually prevent the bite or sting in the first place. Your local parks and recreation department may have a list of insects, etc relevant to your area, but you can also check out PestWorld. Knowing what to expect and which bugs to avoid is key, as well as what may attract those specific bugs. Bees, wasps, spiders, ticks… while we can do our best to avoid provoking or risking these creatures, there is always potential for a bite or sting. Reference this pdf on tick bites – a great quick reference to keep on hand!
APPLY – Even with the best intentions, bites and stings still happen. What first aid is appropriate for each? Most of the time, a cold compress will help soothe any pain and reduce swelling. However, different treatments apply to specific bites and stings. The American Red Cross is always a great reference!
ADMINISTER – In severe instances, an Epi-Pen may be needed to prevent the anaphylactic response brought on by a sting or bite. Unfortunately, one does not usually know they need an Epi-Pen until after an emergency. Know the signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock…trouble breathing, cool/clammy skin, dizziness, and a weak and rapid pulse. Seek emergency help immediately, and discuss the potential need for an Epi-Pen to prevent a life-threatening response in the future!
Falls become more common as outdoor activities increase. Early detection and treatment of any fractures is key to complete and quick healing. A couple rules of thumb:
- Falling from a height greater than your own is cause to seek help! While how you land can help, the height itself in proportion to your own is reason enough to believe a head injury could occur.
- Monitor and regularly evaluate whomever injured themselves. If it was you, have someone else keep an eye on you. Any deformities or loss of mobility and feeling needs to be addressed right away. Other signs and symptoms such as bruising, minor discoloration, minor pain, and temperature changes usually resolve on their own after some time.
Every situation is different. But knowing the basics is a start, and discuss any legitimate concerns with your doctor!