Spending time outdoors is just one of the great things about summer. Coastal Health District officials want coastal Georgia residents to make the most of that time and prevent illness and injury that some summer-related activities can bring.
Heat and humidity are a normal part of a Georgia summer but they can also pose a threat to those spending a lot of time outside.
To minimize the risk of heat-related illness:
• Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids. Drink more fluids regardless of your activity level.
• Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar — these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
• Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library — even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
• Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
• It’s also important to remember that infants, children, and those 65 and older are at increased risk for heat-related illness. Limiting outdoor activity to morning and evening hours, wearing sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, and exercising indoors, are other ways for people of all ages to avoid getting heat-related illness.
Mosquitoes can be a bother but they can carry diseases such as West Nile virus and chikungunya. WNV can cause mild to serious illness. Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all but some develop more severe illness that may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, and muscle weakness.
The first laboratory-confirmed case of chikungunya in Georgia was reported last week. Chikungunya symptoms usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and the most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Symptoms can sometimes be severe but most feel better within a week.
The best way to prevent mosquito-related diseases is to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, which is why it is important to:
• Remove water-holding containers (buckets, barrels, flower pots, tarps, etc. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they’re not being used).
• Change water frequently in pet dishes
• Change bird bath water at least twice a week
• Avoid using saucers under outdoor potted plants
• In addition, following these tips can help lessen the risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes:
• Drain all standing water
• Avoid dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
• Dress appropriately in long sleeves and pants.
• Defend or DEET yourself against mosquitoes with an effective repellent. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
• Doors and windows should be in good condition
Afternoon thunderstorms and rain showers are common during the summer months. Heavy rainfall can cause a septic system to not function properly due to saturation of the soil in and around septic drain fields.
It is always important for residents using septic systems to conserve water usage and ensure that surface waters from rain are diverted away from septic drain fields. Some helpful tips include:
• Repair dripping faucets and leaking toilets.
• Run dishwashers only when full.
• Do not do all your laundry in one day. Space out the washing machine use over the week.
• Replace old fixtures with water saving fixtures.
• Do not direct water from gutter downspouts, sump pumps or subsurface drains into the septic tank.
• Always divert water away from septic drain fields.