Be Summer Smart and Stay Safe
With Summer 2021 upon us and New York State Covid Restrictions lifted, Capital Region residents feel more than ready for some post-pandemic outdoor fun. Although masks are off for those fully vaccinated, Albany Med physicians remind us that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down on other safety precautions.
Heat-related illnesses account for hundreds of deaths each year but can be easily prevented. According to Michael Dailey, MD, chief of the Division of Prehospital and Operational Medicine at Albany Med, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are the most serious forms of heat-related illness, and both can be fatal. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Fatigue or weakness
- Cold, clammy skin
- Nausea or vomiting
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heatstroke, marked by unconsciousness. To protect yourself and others from the heat, Dr. Dailey offers this advice:
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water, particularly if you are engaged in strenuous activity.
- Ventilate. If you do not have access to air conditioning, stay indoors with the windows open and use a fan.
- Limit Activity. If you feel yourself becoming overheated or dizzy, stop to rest in a cool place and drink plenty of water.
- Look out for others. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.
If you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke, call 911 immediately and attempt to lower their body temperature by moving them to a cool place or wrapping them with cool towels.
With summer temperatures upon us, it’s time to beat the heat in area pools and lakes. The Trauma and Critical Care team at Albany Med suggests these tips for both children and adults who may not be strong swimmers.
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- If you go boating, wear a life jacket!
- Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions.
Mary Edwards, MD, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Albany Med said the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends swimming lessons starting at age one. “The best thing you can do to keep your children safe is to get them in the water with an instructor early,” she said. “This has the benefit of getting them more active and making them safer.”
The Trauma and Critical Care team encourage everyone to visit Stop Drowning Now before enjoying the water this summer.
As the region’s trauma center, physicians at Albany Med's Emergency Department see a high number of fireworks-related injuries around the Fourth of July, including severe burns, eye injuries, and amputations.
Nationwide, more than 10,000 people—most of them children—went to the emergency room with injuries from fireworks in 2019, according to the most recent data available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Tom Moran, Trauma Education, Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator at Albany Med, said the best advice to avoid injuries is to leave fireworks to the professionals and plan to watch a scheduled display.
“Kids should never play with fireworks. Illegal fireworks especially are just too dangerous and can misfire, cause serious injuries or start fires,” Moran said.
According to Moran, even legal fireworks like sparklers can be dangerous. They can burn at 1800 degrees and should only be used outside and kept away from the face, hair and clothing. Glow sticks are a safer alternative.
“If anyone is injured by fireworks, take them immediately to an urgent care or emergency department,” he said. “Enjoy your Independence Day but try to keep us from becoming part of your post-celebration activities.”