It’s probably not on your to-do list when it comes to having fun during the summer, but restocking the first aid kit could save you time, grief and perhaps your life. “Emergency rooms see a spike in visits during the summer as people spend more time outdoors and pursue activities they don’t have time for during the rest of the year,” said Kim Lyons, Rapides Wound Healing Center director. Rapides Wound Healing Center staff members are trained to care for chronic wounds that may stem from untreated cuts, burns, bites and infections.
The experts at Rapides Wound Healing Center offer the following safety tips to help keep your summer accident and injury free:
• When choosing a pedicure salon, avoid risk of infection by checking that foot spas are disinfected nightly and between each customer. Micro organisms can enter through the skin, so don’t use a foot spa if you have removed hair from the legs less than 24 hours before, or if you have open wounds, including bug bites, bruises, scratches or rashes such as poison ivy.
• Break in new shoes before wearing them on a hike or vacation. People with diabetes, who are at a higher risk for chronic foot wounds, should always wear socks and avoid wearing sandals or shoes which can irritate the skin and lead to blisters.
• Never make your own fireworks or re-light a “dud.” For minor burns caused by fireworks, barbeque grills and camp fires, relieve pain and prevent contamination by submerging the burn in cool water. Use sterile dressings but don’t apply ointment or home remedies such as butter or petroleum jelly that may seal in heat or cause infection.
• Avoid recreational water illnesses by following public health warnings posted at beaches and lakes since even small amounts of sewage or animal waste can infect open sores or be swallowed. For “swimmer’s itch,” an allergic skin rash cased by parasites in contaminated salt or fresh water, resist the impulse to scratch and soothe it with cool compresses, anti-itch lotion, corticosteroid cream or a paste made of baking soda.
• Children, the elderly and those with high blood pressure have increased risk for heat exhaustion and, during warm days, should drink more water and stay away from beverages containing caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
• Always wash your hands after being outside because dirty hands are a primary source of infection.
• Insect repellents can help reduce exposure to mosquito bites that may carry viruses. Use enough repellent to cover exposed skin but don’t apply it to cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Sweating or getting wet may require reapplying more, but a rule of thumb to follow is to reapply when mosquitoes begin to bite.
• Most cases of Lyme disease occur in the spring and summer months, putting campers, hikers and gardeners at greater risk. Choose light-colored clothing that enable ticks to be seen and cover your skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat. Conduct a full-body check for ticks each night before going to bed after outdoor activities.
For more information on treating chronic or infected wounds, visit www.rapidesregional.com or contact Rapides Wound Healing Center at (318) 769-4500.