Surviving an Arizona summer is a matter of degrees. As triple-digit survival mode kicks in for Arizonans, heed these tips from John C. Lincoln emergency room physician and father of two, Jeffrey Schultz, MD.
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Sun and Heat
To protect yourself from the heat, use common sense to avoid dangerous situations with Arizona's extreme outdoor temperatures.
- Plan errands and recreational activities for the early morning and evening. Avoid being outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun is the hottest.
- Teach your children to wear shoes outside. The concrete can be hot enough to cause second-degree burns.
- Check the temperature of buckles and car seats because they can reach the temperature of a hot skillet. Park in covered parking as much as possible.
- Keep water with you. Pack extra bottles in the car in case of an emergency. Recommendations vary, but clear urine is a sign of being well hydrated.
- Wear sunscreen. Make sunscreen part of your morning routine. Lather up your kids before dressing them to ensure sun protection, even if you're not around water.
Heat cramps, exhaustion and even heat stroke are not uncommon in Arizona. Here are some symptoms to look for when diagnosing a heat related illness:
- Muscle spasms or cramps.
- Cold sweat.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Flushed cheeks.
- Nausea, headache, upset stomach or vomiting, and dizziness.
- Hot, dry red skin, dizziness and confusion.
- Rapid weak pulse.
- Rapid shallow breathing.
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Pools and lakes begin to fill up during the summer months, not just with water, but with people. The combination can be deadly if you do not take precautions. Stay safe around water by:
- Constant supervision of children. Assign a designated child watcher. Schedule 30-minute increments in which one adult is on duty and everyone knows who is responsible for watching kids around the pool.
- Having non-swimmers wear personal flotation devices.
- Learning CPR. CPR training is available in several places in the Valley. Post CPR steps on the refrigerator as a reminder.
- Installing a secured barrier around your pool. The Arizona Legislature requires pool fences to be at least five feet high. Learn more about Arizona pool fence regulations at www.azleg.state.az.us.
- Keeping toilet lids closed, and buckets and pails empty.
- Having a telephone outside by the pool.
- Never running around the pool.
- Remembering that two seconds is too long to divert your attention from a child in or around water.
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Bites & Stings
Summertime is also an increased activity time for critters. Snakes, scorpions and bees emerge from their nests, burrows and hiding places to stretch their legs, tails and wings.
- If you see a snake, leave it alone. The further away you are, the less likely you are to get bitten.
- Make lots of noise and step on top of rocks and logs while walking or hiking to scare a snake out of your path.
- If you see a snake and you know it's poisonous, contact your local fire department or animal control to have it removed. Do not try to kill it or remove it yourself.
What should you do if a snake bites you?
- Call 9-1-1 immediately or seek medical attention.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Keep the bite area below the level of the heart.
Scorpions in Arizona range from those with merely painful stings to the smaller bark scorpion, a tiny terror that can produce neurotoxicity, especially in a small child. Neurotoxicity can cause symptoms ranging from localized numbness to life-threatening problems such as breathing difficulty.
To avoid scorpion stings:
- Shake out your shoes, towels and clothes before using them.
- Try to eliminate a scorpion's food source to keep them out of your home. Scorpions are immune to most pesticides, but getting rid of the crickets and other small insects will decrease the presence of scorpions.
- Bring a black light while camping or in the wilderness. Scorpions glow under UV light so you can see where they're hiding.
What should you do if you get stung by a scorpion?
- Wash the sting area with soap and water.
- Apply ice pack on sting area. This will slow the venom down moving through the body.
- Call Arizona Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) for advice on how to handle the sting. If your symptoms are severe, go to the Emergency Department. John C. Lincoln offers Anascorp, an antivenin treatment that can reverse the symptoms of a scorpion sting within a few minutes.
- Take younger children and the elderly directly to the emergency room. They are at higher risk of the sting becoming more life-threatening.
Summer for bees means time to pollinate. That's why you see an increase of bee activity. The best ways to avoid an unfavorable encounter with a bee are:
- Avoid fragrances, including hair spray, scented soaps, lotions and oils.
- Don't wear brightly colored clothing, particularly floral patterns — don't look like a flower patch.
- Be very careful with food. Soda cans are notorious: Bees climb in unobserved and are frightened into stinging as you begin to take a sip.
- If a bee lands on you, be still. Try blowing on it to encourage it to leave without startling it.
- Wear a hat. Bees have been proven to have a lower threshold for stinging people with hats.
What should you do if you are stung by a bee?
- Remove the stinger as fast as possible. You can use a credit card or driver's license to gently scrape the stinger out of your skin; don't grab or squeeze the stinger as this pushes more venom into your skin.
- Apply ice to decrease the pain and swelling to the area.
- Watch for inflammation or a reaction. If a noticeable reaction lasts more than few days, seek medical attention.
- People who are allergic to bees or begin to have difficulty breathing, tongue or lip swelling, dizziness or feeling light headed (signs of anaphylactic reaction) should seek immediate medical attention.
- If you see someone attacked by bees, call 9-1-1 immediately. Advise the person to seek shelter in a building or vehicle.
- If you're being attacked by bees, cover your face with your hands and run as fast as you can from the bees. In most cases, you can outrun them. Look for shelter in a building or vehicle. Swimming pools are not a good place to hide. The bees will wait for you to come up out of the water and attack again.
- If you're stung several times, seek medical attention. Dizziness, difficulty breathing or lips and nails turning blue could indicate an allergic reaction. Seek medical attention immediately.
By taking simple, common-sense precautions, you can have fun and stay safe this summer. More information on safety can be found at JCL.com/childsafety.
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