By Colden O’Dell
Summer is about to peak on Lake Lure as families and friends enjoy fun-filled days of tubing and skiing, even wakeboarding! Others will prefer the great outdoors in its most natural state while still some people enjoy grilling and chilling. I’m Colden O’Dell, and I’d rather be kicked back at the swimming pool.
Yes! The time for summer fun is upon us. As a family nurse practitioner, I have some ideas to share that can help make your summertime safer:
Sun and Skin Cancer
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15.
- Apply sunscreen liberally (a minimum of 1 oz.) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
- Make sure to cover the ears, lips, neck, tops of feet, and backs of hands.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and each time you get out of the water or sweat heavily.
- Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can pose a severe risk to all and should not be taken lightly. It can cause premature aging of the skin, cataracts, and skin cancer, and it can suppress the body’s immune system.
- Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is one of the most common cancers among those ages 15-29.
- It accounts for more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
- One person dies from skin cancer every hour.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15, as it blocks 93 percent of UV rays. You want to block both UVA and UVB rays to guard against skin cancer. Be sure to follow application directions on the container.
- Wear a wide-brim hat to protect your neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp.
- Wear UV-absorbent shades. Sunglasses should block 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.
- Limit your exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as that is when UV rays are most intense.
- Always check the depth of the water before diving in.
- Never dive in the shallow end of a pool or into above-ground pools.
- Wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets while on a boat or around an open body of water or while playing water sports.
- Complete a boater’s safety course to know and understand your boat’s full operation.
- Know boating laws and be courteous to other boaters.
- Always check water and weather conditions before taking the boat out.
- Swim in supervised areas. Don’t go in the water unless you know how to swim. If you or your children cannot swim, take lessons beforehand or enter the water only where there is trained supervision.
- Stay calm in a rip current. Swimmers who get caught in a rip current are urged not to try to fight it. Stay calm and float with it or try to swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and can swim freely.
- Keep rescue equipment nearby. Make sure there are life jackets, ring buoys, and other rescue equipment near the body of water. A first aid kit should be available, too.
- Check your skin and clothes for ticks every day. The immature forms of these ticks are very small and may be hard to see.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots or socks.
- Use insect repellents that provide protection for the amount of time you will be outdoors:
- Use repellents such as Permethrin for greater protection.
- To prevent mosquito bites, use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellant with DEET and wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
- Once a week, scrub or empty planters, birdbaths, vases and flowerpot saucers; mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.
- Use EPA-approved indoor and outdoor flying insect spray or foggers
- Check for leaks or breaks with gas grills.
- Clean the grill before use to eliminate fire hazards posed by heavy grease buildup.
- Always grill outdoors. Never grill indoors, on a balcony, or in the garage.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close by and know how to use it. Keep a spray bottle or bucket of water handy for minor flare ups.
These are just a few bits of advice I’ve shared to help you stay safe and healthy this summer. I sincerely hope you and your family enjoy the summer break. And know that Foothills Medical Associates offers extended hours if you need us!
A native of Rutherford County, Colden O’Dell is a Family Nurse Practitioner with Foothills Medical Associates of Columbus. He is grateful to be working with Jeff Viar, DO, Mike Bradey, PA-C and Janet Howell, PA-C, a family practice team striving to be your health provider. For more information or to schedule a convenient appointment, please call 828-894-5627.