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How to Stay Out of the ER This Summer

Common sense and caution guarantee outdoor fun stays healthy, expert says

SATURDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- A few simple safety precautions can help ensure your summer fun doesn't lead to the hospital emergency department, says Dr. Jeff Kalina, associate director of emergency medicine at the Methodist Hospital in Houston.

Avoid overheating. If you're playing/exercising outside in hot weather, drink water or beverages with electrolytes. Don't drink caffeinated beverages because they cause dehydration. Don't drink alcohol. It changes the body's thermal regulation center and makes your body think it's cool when it's not, which may cause you to stay outside much longer than you should.

Pay attention when you're at pools or beaches. Never leave a child unattended and avoid swimming at night, because most pools aren't properly lit, which can make it difficult to see a person at the bottom of the pool. Never dive into water less than nine feet deep. Diving into shallow water can cause neck and spinal cord injuries.

Don't scratch insect bites because doing so can break the skin and make you more vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant staph infections. If insect bites are itchy, apply a topical anti-itch cream.

If you take blood pressure medications or insulin, put it in a cooler and bring it with you on outings to the beach or other locations.

Don't eat food that's been left out in the sun/heat, because it could make you sick. Food should be kept covered and cool until it's eaten and then put away as soon as everyone is done eating.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about summer safety.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Methodist Hospital in Houston, news release, June 2008

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