You wouldn’t know it by looking around you — back-to-school shopping has peaked and the summer clearance sales ended to make room for Christmas merchandise — but it’s only the seventh week of summer. With six weeks to go until fall, we aren’t even halfway.
Despite the relatively cool and dry summer we are experiencing around the country, we want to be smart and be safe. Take this short quiz to test your summer safety smarts:
1. True or False: Hand washing with warm water and soap should be done before and after handling food.
True. The move to the outdoors for cooking and eating doesn’t eliminate the need for hand washing. Whether you are eating at the ballpark, a family picnic, or supper on your own back patio, don’t forget the soap and water. Grabbing something at the drive-through? At a minimum, use hand sanitizer or wipes.
2. True or False: Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables, and wash the boards thoroughly after each use.
True. Keep raw foods and their juices away from cooked foods. Don’t reuse plates that previously held raw food without washing first and don't forget the tongs you use to put your raw meat on the grill. Never use the same ones to turn or remove the cooked meat.
3. True or False: In temperatures higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, food should only be out one hour.
True. Food should never sit out in the sun any longer than two hours and if it's 90 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, cut that to one hour. Your car heats up like an oven, so be sure you have plenty of ice, cold packs and insulated containers if you're traveling with food. For leftovers and groceries, remember cars can get up to 120 degrees in just 10 to 15 minutes on hot days—too warm for cold food and not warm enough to keep hot food safe.
4. True or False: Prime mosquito-biting hours are usually from dusk to dawn.
True. Warmer temperatures aren't just attractive to people, but to mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Mosquitoes can transmit viruses, ticks and fleas can transmit serious infections. To prevent these illnesses, use appropriate insect and tick repellents and apply them properly. Use landscaping techniques that promote an insect repellent environment with the use of plants, screens, and limiting standing water.
5. True or False: Loss of power from storms is a contributing factor to heat-related illnesses and deaths.
True. Have a plan and work your plan. Ask your local police or fire department about resources and planning tools, familiarize yourself with programs in your area and sign up! Notify your local utility companies and emergency response if you depend on oxygen or other medical equipment that rely on electricity, have heart or lung conditions affected by heat and humidity, and reach out to your neighbors.
Those who live alone yet make daily connections with their friends and families are much more likely to avoid a fatal heat emergency. If your area is experiencing high temperatures, storms, or power outages, make sure to check in regularly on those who are elderly or with serious health issues and offer to help them escape the heat if you can.
6. True or False: Muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness are signs of heat-related illness.
True. Heat emergencies are health crises caused by exposure to hot weather and sun. Heat emergencies have three stages: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Although heatstroke is the most serious, all three stages are serious and if left untreated, the first two can lead to heatstroke.
Heat emergencies usually occur when someone has exercised too much in hot weather or being confined in a place that heats up, such as a car. Heat emergencies are more common in people who are overweight, those who have been drinking alcohol, the elderly, and children. These people have difficulty regulating their internal body temperature.
The best way to avoid a heat emergency is to stay in the shade or in a ventilated, air-conditioned area during the hottest part of the day, usually between 2 and 5 p.m. If you will be out in the heat, take precautions: rest often, wear light-colored loose clothing, and drink water. Help others prevent a heat emergency by checking frequently on the elderly and children.
7. True or False: Sunscreen is no longer necessary after the age of 65.
False. Exposure, not age, is the only requirement for use of sunscreen. Consequences of overexposure to the sun include sunburns, premature aging of the skin, wrinkling, and skin cancer. Wear clothing to protect exposed skin, hats with a wide brim, and use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Sunglasses will protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.
Be aware of changes brought on by medications. Many medications commonly prescribed today increase our sensitivity to the sun as well as inhibiting our ability to sweat, thus to cool off in the heat.
8. True or False: When temperatures rise, drink more water than usual and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink.
True. If you are already thirsty, you are treating a problem, not preventing one. As adults, we lose more than eighty ounces of water daily just through normal activity. Elderly adults are among the most at risk groups for dehydration, one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65.
Dehydration is caused by loss of salts and water in our bodies due to severe sweating, extreme heat, vomiting, diarrhea and certain medications. Severe dehydration can become life threatening because there is no longer enough fluid in the body to carry blood to the organs.
All adults should drink at least 64 ounces of fluids of non-caffeinated liquids daily. Caffeinated beverages cause frequent urination and promote dehydration. Water can also be found in many fruits and vegetables, so including them as part of a nutritionally sound daily diet will help with staying hydrated. Fruits like melons, berries, apples, oranges and peaches. Vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers, celery and cauliflower are also good. And keep water readily available.
To learn more about Crossroads Hospice, please contact us at 888-564-3405.
Judy Waechter, RN, CRRN
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