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North Richland Hills — Summer offers many opportunities for fun in the sun and in the water. A Medical City North Hills emergency room physician is providing some safety tips to reduce risks that accompany summer activities that often result in emergency room visits.

"The body is a wonderful machine. Listen to it,” says Curtis H. Johnson, MD, medical director of emergency services at Medical City North Hills. “When you are out in the heat and get thirsty, that signals a need to drink. Choose water or a non-alcoholic beverage with electrolytes. Headache, nausea, weakness or dizziness can be a sign of dehydration and means it’s time to quickly seek a cool area in the shade or inside to re-hydrate.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heat-related illness including heat stroke and heat exhaustion kills more than 600 people annually in the U.S. Unintentional drowning takes the lives of more than 3,960.

Dr. Johnson recommends these safety tips to help avoid these summer-related accidents:

On the water

  • Don’t swim alone. Make sure someone is near in case of trouble.
  • Follow all posted regulations for watercraft – speed, direction and ski zone rules help keep visitors safe.
  • Always wear a life jacket. Make sure the device is the correct size, that all straps are connected and pulled tight for a secure fit.
  • Never take your eyes off of children who are in the water.

Under the sun

  • Be aware of heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These usually occur in stages, with symptoms progressing from mild to severe.
  • Use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Reapply every two hours, covering all parts of the body exposed to the sun. Sun damage occurs before the skin turns red. Spray sunscreen should be applied to the hands first and then spread on exposed skin to assure full coverage and avoid potentially spraying into the eyes.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages which can contribute to dehydration.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses to further reduce sunburn risk and the chance for eye damage.

Find more tips in the Medical City Healthcare Take Care blog.

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