Stay safe in the sun, officials warn

ESCANABA – With the area’s upcoming Fourth of July and Esky 150 Sesquicentennial celebrations, local health officials are reminding the public to stay safe while out and about this summer.

One of the most important things is to always wear sunscreen when outdoors.

“We always suggest that if you’re going to spend time outdoors definitely wear sunscreen and especially if you’re going out in the mid-day hours,” said Shanna Hammond, community health promotion coordinator for Public Health, Delta & Menominee Counties.

Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside, with Hammond recommending use of SPF 15 or above for the best protection. Once applied, it is important to reapply sunscreen periodically throughout the day since it does wear off after a few hours, she said.

Hammond also highlighted the importance for those outside to wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to provide extra protection to the face and eyes. Individuals should also stay hydrated.

“If you’re going to spend anytime outdoors in the heat, you want to stay hydrated,” she said. “You want to drink water before you’re going to be spending time outside and then throughout your time outside you want to make sure you’re drinking water.”

Taking breaks from the heat and sun are also important. People who spend a lot of time in the direct sun should take breaks in a place with air conditioning or the shade.

Dr. Anthony Kamerschen, family physician at OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group, said one of the most important things to remember is to avoid staying in the heat for prolonged periods of time. Like Hammond, he reiterated the importance of staying well hydrated.

“Water is going to be your best friend as far as hydration,” he said, adding the benefits of drinking water are better than other alternatives such as sports drinks.

According to Kamerschen, regulations on sunscreen have changed recently; products that do not have an SPF on their label are no longer able to tout themselves as sunscreen, he said.

However, his recommendation is for people to use a sunscreen that is SPF 35 or more.

“Be aware of signs of heat exhaustion,” said Kamerschen, some of which are fatigue, dizziness, nausea, feeling tired and having a fast heart rate.

He said with this week’s celebrations those attending the parade should try staying in the shade and bringing a chair to avoid standing for prolonged periods of time. If individuals must stand, he said they should not lock their knees as it blocks blood flow, which could cause them to pass out.

Diabetics are also at an increased risk of their blood sugar levels dropping, so he suggests having a candy bar or sugar tablet on them when out in the heat.

In addition to beating the heat, individuals are reminded to be careful for bug bites, wearing insect repellent for increased protection. They also need to be on the lookout for ticks.

“With deer ticks, sometimes you hear about the bull’s-eye rash to watch for,” said Kristi Steger, health educator at Public Health, Delta & Menominee Counties. “If you notice a bite with a bull’s-eye rash, it might be something to bring to a doctor’s attention. It could be a deer tick bite.”

Steger also expressed the importance of everyone wearing bike helmets for their safety, as there are many bikers out and about this time of year. On July 10, Public Health, Delta & Menominee Counties will distribute free bicycle helmets in various sizes for youth as part of the Esky 150 Children’s Day events at Ludington Park.

“Just be safe when you’re outside,” said Hammond. “We’re so lucky living in the U.P. We have gorgeous summers and a lot of opportunities for outdoor fun, but it’s just important to keep in mind your safety and be smart in the sun.”

For additional summer safety tips and health-related information, visit the Michigan Department of Community Health’s website at