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Don't celebrate Fourth of July with our docs!

Story Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2012 09:43:00 CDT

Whether you're beach bound or backyard barbecuing, the Fourth of July can be a fun celebration. But before your family has too much fun, make sure everyone knows how to stay safe!

If you can't take the heat, get out of the sun! According to faculty members in Emergency Medicine, heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke can creep up on you. Heat exhaustion can cause you to feel sweaty, weak, dizzy, nauseated and confused. Getting out of the sun and drinking plenty of water can help to curb these symptoms.

Heatstroke is much more dangerous and can cause damage to your organs and even your brain. High fever, severe headache, lack of sweating, and fast breathing can all be signs of heatstroke. Anyone who believes they may be suffering from heatstroke should seek immediate medical attention.

Don't let SPF labels confuse use! As you head out to the beach or the backyard, don't forget your sunscreen. Many will wonder if it is necessary to buy sunscreen with the highest sun protection factor (SPF). Eric J. Dobratz, MD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, says the real science to projecting your skin is knowing what level of skin protection you need.

The SPF number relates to the amount of protection provided compared to not wearing any sunscreen (SPF 20 would require 20 times the duration of sun exposure to burn compared to the amount of time if no sunscreen is applied).

Everyone should limit the amount of direct sunlight they receive and generously apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30 throughout the day.

"To ensure maximum protection, it is important to remember to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun and to reapply every two hours," Dr. Dobratz says. "You should also reapply after swimming and considerable sweating."

Throw something on the barbeque, just don't stand too close! Grilling is a great way to spend your holiday, but can be a burn danger if you're not careful. Remember to only grill outdoors, away from the house or anything that can catch fire and to always keep a watchful eye when the barbecue is in use. Make sure children and pets keep a safe distance, and that the cook uses proper grilling tools with long handles to keep hands away from the surface.

Watch the weather and the waves! When it comes to the beach, knowing the weather and water conditions beforehand can help you make smart swimming decisions. Always swim with a buddy and never leave children left unsupervised. Watch out for undercurrents and always enter shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas marked safe for diving. And according to the American Red Cross Water Safety Tips, it's safest to swim where there are designated life guards on duty.