Men’s Health Month: Staying Safe Outdoors
PREVENT HEAT STROKE
Beth Oestreich, BS, CHES Injury Prevention Program Director
With summer starting, the North Dakota Department of Health is offering tips that will help prevent exhaustion and heat stroke for outdoor workers. People working outside are the most prone to developing heat stroke. Outdoor workers are particularly vulnerable in extreme heat. Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to the sun where the person affected does not sweat enough to properly lower their body temperature.
If you are an outdoor worker, please learn the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. People are often unaware that their exposure to heat is harmful until they need medical assistance. The signs of heat exhaustion include:
- heavy sweating
If these signs are ignored, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which requires immediate medical attention. Signs of heat stroke are:
- rapid heartbeat
- hot, dry, red skin that does not perspire
If you work outside in the heat, there are several critical steps you can take to reduce the threat of heat exhaustion and heatstroke:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Avoid drinks such as soda, tea, and coffee, as they can contribute to dehydration.
- Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothes.
- If possible, schedule outside activities for early in the day or later in the evening, which are cooler times of the day.
- Take regular breaks in the shade.
- Many hard workers push themselves too hard when the temperature rises. Slow down a bit in the heat to avoid overexertion and dehydration.
- Don’t work outside in the heat for long periods of time without a partner or someone nearby.
Lastly, it is very important to understand that heat stroke is a true medical emergency which must be treated immediately by medical professionals.
PROPER USE OF INSECT REPELLENT
Amanda Bakken, MS, MPH WNV Surveillance Coordinator and Epidemiology Assistant
Late spring snowfall and thunderstorms that brought soaking rain has resulted in an unusually wet spring. While many of us have anxiously awaited the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the beautiful North Dakota sun, no one relishes the bugs that accompany our summer months. Rather than staying inside to avoid pests, follow these easy steps to prevent bug bites and disease:
- Choose an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent. EPA repellents have been tested and are proven to be safe and effective when used according to label instructions. Look for repellent that includes ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol (PMD), 2-undecanone, and permethrin (clothing only), or use the EPA’s search tool: Find the Repellent that is Right for You | US EPA.
- Remember to apply sunscreen first and repellent second.
- Follow instructions when applying. Do not apply near the eyes and mouth, and if using an aerosol, it should first be sprayed on your hands and then applied to your face.
- Avoid applying repellent to cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- Apply repellent outside.
- Avoid breathing aerosol products.
- Do not apply repellent near food.
- Check repellent label for flammability warnings; if flammable, avoid using around open flames.
- Wash your hands after application.
- When finished outside, wash treated skin with soap and water and launder clothing.
- Store repellents out of reach of children.
PROTECTION FROM TETANUS
Jessica Allen Immunization Health Educator
Tetanus is a rare but serious disease caused by bacterial spores that can be found in virtually all settings of our environment. The tetanus-causing bacteria can spread easily through soil, feces, dust, saliva from animal or bug bites, and yes, by stepping on a rusty nail. Now that summer is here, it is a great time to make sure you are caught up on your tetanus vaccine. All individuals are recommended to receive one dose of a vaccine used to prevent against tetanus every 10 years, or when recommended by your health care provider for wound management.
On average, there are around 30 cases of tetanus reported each year in the United States, nearly all being among those who are unvaccinated. If left untreated, a tetanus infection may lead to serious outcomes that can impact your nervous system, including:
- Jaw cramping or the inability to open the mouth (“lockjaw”)
- Muscle spasms often in the back, abdomen and extremities
- Sudden painful muscle spasms, often triggered by noises
- Trouble swallowing
- Fever and sweating
- Changes in blood pressure or fast heart rate
The great news is that the vaccines available in the United States to prevent tetanus (Td or Tdap) have been found to be clinically 100% effective at preventing an infection following the completion of the recommended primary series during childhood. However, over time, vaccine effectiveness may begin to wane, which is why it is important to get a recommended booster dose once every 10 years.
Call your doctor or local public health department if you have more questions regarding whether you are up to date on your tetanus vaccinations. If you are past due for your next tetanus shot, now is a great time to schedule an appointment in order to get back to enjoying the great outdoors this summer without worrying about tetanus.