First aid summer survival tips

Before you head outdoors with your family to enjoy the summer weather, plan ahead so you can stay safe and healthy. Take steps to protect yourself from the sun, bugs and poisonous plants #summersafety.

Protect Your Skin From the Sun

Summer Survival Guide (PRNewsFoto/Nyack Hospital)


Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer. To protect your skin from UV radiation, stay in the shade as much as possible, especially during midday hours. Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck, and wraparound sunglasses. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, which offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount you can hold in your palm) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours, and each time you get out of the water or perspire heavily.

Stay Hydrated

When you’re outdoors, make sure everyone in the family drinks plenty of liquids. Don’t wait until a child says they are thirsty before giving them something to drink. Provide fluids before going outside, while outdoors and when they get back inside.

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Using insect repellent can help you avoid mosquito bites when you’re outside. Most insect repellents applied to the skin contain either DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. The higher the concentration of DEET or picaridin, the longer it will provide protection against mosquitoes. Don’t use products that contain DEET on infants younger than six months, and don’t use picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under age three.

Other tips for safe insect repellent use:

  • Don’t let young children get products containing DEET or picaridin on their hands or faces.
  • Apply repellent only to exposed areas of skin — not under clothing.
  • When you head back indoors, remove any remaining repellent by washing with soap and water.

If you know you’ll be in an area with many mosquitoes, wear long sleeves, long pants tucked into the tops of your socks, light colors and a wide-brimmed hat to help protect your ears and the back of your neck. Taking these steps can also help protect against ticks that carry Lyme disease.

Learn to Spot…and Treat…Poison Ivy

The best way to deal with poison ivy, oak and sumac is to learn to recognize it, so you can avoid it. Avoid bushy, overgrown areas that may contain these plants. When hiking, try to stay on paths, and wear protective clothing to reduce the amount of skin that’s exposed.

If you do come into contact with one of these plants, wash exposed areas with soap and water within 5 to 10 minutes of contact if possible to prevent a breakout. If you do develop a rash, soak in a cool bath sprinkled with oatmeal or baking soda to rinse the oil from the plants that spreads the rash. After the bath, apply calamine lotion to help reduce itching. Wash all of your clothes—even your sneakers—and sheets to get rid of the plant oil. The oil can even cling to your dog’s fur. Call your doctor if the rash starts oozing or your skin swells.

Pack a summer first aid kit and keep it in the car. Infographic: Pack a Summer First Aid Kit

  • Thermometer
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Hydrocortisone cream for rashes and bug bites
  • Bottle of water to clean a wound or scrape
  • Tea tree oil to treat poison ivy
  • Aloe vera gel to help soothe a sunburn
  • Sanitizing wipes to clean your hands
  • Antiseptic towelettes to clean out scrapes and cuts
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Bandages, Band-aids, gauze and tape                                                       
  • Tweezers and a sterile needle for splinters
  • Instant ice packs for inflammation
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • Saline solution to clean out eyes
  • Small doses of over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Pepto-Bismol tablets, Dramamine, and Benadryl for allergic reactions

Keep a list of emergency numbers handy:

  • Emergency medical services (911)
  • Your family doctor
  • Pediatrician
  • Dentist
  • Poison control

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