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Staying Healthy Outside in Houston

Sep. 18, 2019

There's nothing quite like getting out of your home or office and enjoying the great outdoors. Spending time in the sun, exploring the unknown and connecting with nature can feel like a breath of fresh air — until you get a sunburn or come home covered in bug bites.

 Dr. Jennifer Greenblatt, a primary care doctor at Houston Methodist, offers tips to stay safe as you enjoy the outdoors.

Mind the heat and sun

“Be aware of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke and dehydration,” says Dr. Greenblatt. “The young, the elderly and pets are particularly vulnerable groups.”

  • Stay hydrated. Hydration should begin before outdoor activity. Your urine should appear clear or pale yellow, if you’re drinking enough fluids.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a hot car.
  • Avoid strenuous activities during peak temperatures, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Limit sun exposure. Ultraviolet rays can damage skin in 15 minutes.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothes, wide-brimmed hats and UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses.

 

Defend against injury

“Staying active is important,” Greenblatt said. “However, certain activities, especially if you don’t engage in them often, such as swimming in the ocean, hiking or boating, can lead to injury,”

  • Wear protective gear such as helmets and life jackets.
  • Never leave children unattended near pools or bodies of water.
  • Swim in designated areas and never swim alone.
  • Avoid alcohol, which can impair judgment, balance and coordination.

 

Prevent bites and stings

Reduce your exposure to mosquitoes to avoid getting bitten and contracting mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika.

  • Wear EPA-registered repellent and destroy mosquito breeding grounds by emptying containers filled with stagnant water.
  • Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to prevent itching if you or your child gets stung or bitten.
  • Carry an emergency first-aid kit in case of an allergic reaction. Items should include an antihistamine like Benadryl, topical steroid cream, plus vinegar for jellyfish stings.
  • Steer clear of scented soaps and lotions to avoid attracting insects.