Awareness December 3, 2020
Top 5 summer health risks and how to prevent them.
Beaches, bikinis, a lot of beer – summertime is here, and the living should be easy. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also rife with health risks. Here’s why, and how you can avoid them.
Over the holiday season, most people look to do something out of the ordinary, especially after several months of COVID-19 lockdown. In South Africa, that invariably means travelling towards vacation hotspots, usually along the coast, and taking part in new sports and activities.
But busy roads, unfamiliar pursuits and a general air of relaxation can lead to accidents.
ER24 communications officer Russel Meiring says emergency services are generally very busy during the festive season.
“The public will start making their way to various holiday destinations, which sees an increase in traffic – this in itself will see an increase in the number of motor vehicle collisions,” he says.
Top 5 summer health risks in SA
Meiring says ER24 teams are regularly called into action over the holiday season to attend to:
- Heat-related injuries
- Breathing difficulties
- Bites and stings
“Watersports are a lot of fun,” says Meiring, “but if you or your children are not experienced in performing them safely and correctly, they can lead to accidents. You must ensure there is adequate adult supervision.”
In SA, summer brings high temperatures and dry air: these can cause dehydration and allergy-related breathing issues, especially if you are unaccustomed to them, says Meiring. Stay hydrated, be wary of staying outdoors too long, and watch children closely for signs of allergies.
“Heatstroke is also very common,” he says. “If left untreated, heat-related injuries can be serious and even lead to death.”
Heat-related injuries will present in four categories:
- Heat cramps (mild)
- Heat cramps (intermediate)
- Heat exhaustion and
- Heatstroke (severe)
“You can usually prevent heat injuries by staying hydrated,” Meiring says. However, knowing the signs of dehydration can help you prevent the problem from becoming dangerous.
A child who is dehydrated will have*:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- No tears when crying
- Less wet nappies than usual
- Sunken eyes, cheeks
- A sunken soft spot on top of the skull (babies)
- A listless or irritable demeanour
An adult suffering from dehydration will experience*:
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-coloured urine
* There are different grades/degrees of dehydration, and not all these signs have to be present. The more severe cases will have more of the signs.
COVID-19 during the holiday
- Remember to wear your mask, even at the beach and water parks.
- Try to follow all social distance measures.
- Make sure to sanitise regularly, using an alcohol-based sanitiser or washing your hands regularly with soap and water.
ER24 can be contacted for any medical emergency on 084 124.