State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) today reminded New Yorkers to take extra precautions when faced with intense heat and humidity this summer. By following simple summer safety tips, everyone can reduce the risk of hot-weather problems, such as dehydration, heat stroke, and skin cancer.
"School's out, pools are open, and New Yorkers are starting to look for fun ways to cool down as temperatures heat up," Senator Hassell-Thompson said. "Leisurely hours spent outdoors with family and friends play a large part in our summer traditions, but we must protect ourselves from the season's inherent dangers."
Summer heat poses serious health risks, even for those who stay indoors, away from direct sunlight. To ensure a safe and healthy summer, the Bronx/Westchester lawmaker recommends the following hot-weather safety tips:
- Never leave children or pets in a parked automobile, even with windows cracked open, even for a few minutes.
- Drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirsty. Those on a fluid-restricted diet or taking diuretics (water pills) should consult their doctors. Avoid drinks containing caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, which cause you to lose more body fluid and worsen the problem.
- If possible, stay in an air-conditioned area during spells of particularly hot weather.
- When outdoors, stay in the shade.
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothes, including a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher on all exposed areas of skin.
- Keep insects away by using bug repellent and/or citronella candles.
- Ask your doctor about the effects of sun and heat when taking prescription medicines, especially diuretics or antihistamines. On outings, take along a first aid kit containing antiseptic, bandages and pain relievers.
- Don't forget your pet-- supply dogs and cats with two to three times the normal amount of water.
"Young children and older adults are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses, so monitor them closely for signs of distress. No one wants to make a trip to the emergency room when all they planned on was a day at the beach," said Senator Hassell-Thompson.
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include: muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headaches, and confusion. In young children, look for less frequent urination, dark urine with a strong odor, or a drier-than-normal mouth. People with symptoms should find shade, drink water, and sponge bathe with cool water. Seek immediate medical attention if a person appears to be in trouble because of heat.
Another summertime health concern is skin cancer, the most common form of cancer and usually caused by chronic overexposure to the sun. Fortunately, it's largely preventable with proper precautions.
Senator Hassell-Thompson noted: "Sunscreens are the first line of defense. They should be applied liberally, and reapplied every two hours or after swimming. But while they protect against sunburn, sunscreens don't necessarily prevent cancer- not if you spend more time in the sun, collecting the same total exposure. It's a good idea to avoid midday sun, when the sun's rays are brightest."
"The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool, drinking plenty of water, and monitoring outdoor activities are the best ways to beat the heat. I urge everyone to take the threat of hot weather seriously. Prepare yourself and your family ahead of time, and enjoy the season," Senator Hassell-Thompson concluded.