Monday, August 18, 2014

Illinois’ Top Doc Issues Five Health Tips for Festivals

If you’re planning to visit an outdoor summer festival, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck offers the following five health tips.

“We want people to enjoy their visit to the state fair, as well as other outdoor events. These tips will help everyone avoid some of the more common hazards associated with the summer season,” Dr. Hasbrouck said.

#1 - Wear sunscreen: Applying sunscreen is a quick and easy thing to do, and all skin types need protection from the sun. For the most effective protection, be sure to apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and then reapply every two hours. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s harmful rays in as little as 15 minutes, yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effects of sun exposure. Wear a sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and one that has both UVA and UVB protection.

#2 - Stay Cool: Sunburn and heat exhaustion are the most common heat-related conditions.  However, prolonged heat exposure can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal. A person can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke after spending too much time in the heat, indoors or out, or from overexposure to direct sunlight. Along with increasing your intake of fluids, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Also be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

A person suffering from heat exhaustion will be sweating heavily and their skin will be cool and wet. Symptoms also include dizziness, nausea, or a flushed complexion. If these symptoms are present, move the person to a cooler place; remove or loosen tight clothing; apply cool, wet cloths; and give cool water to slowly drink. A person suffering from heat stroke will have hot, dry skin, hallucinations, chills, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness, a throbbing headache, and slurred speech. If a person is suspected of having heatstroke, seek medical attention immediately.

#3 - Wear Insect Repellent: Protect both you and your family from mosquito bites – and the risk of West Nile Virus (WNV) – by ensuring that everyone has on insect repellent. Mosquitoes that typically carry WNV are stealthy biters and you may not notice them. Repellents found to be the most effective include those that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535.

#4 - Drink Water: Make an extra effort to drink at least six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of liquids a day. Try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as well as those with large amounts of sugar, since they may lead to dehydration.

#5 - Wash Your Hands: With everything from corn dogs to cotton candy to eat, and horses and hogs to see and pet at the fair, you’ll want to make sure you properly wash your hands.  Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.  Dry your hands using a disposable paper towel whenever possible. Turn off the water with a paper towel and then throw the towel away.  If soap and clean water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing liquid to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand gels significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast acting.

Following these simple steps can make your visit to a summer fair or festival a healthier and happier one.