Being outdoors can provide some needed socially-distanced relief for many during these stressful times, but participating in outdoor activities requires planning to deal with common health hazards.


Sun Smarts


Even though the calendar has turned to September, the hot weather is likely to be with us for a while longer, making exposure to excessive heat a continued threat. Dr. Pooja Kulkarni, a primary care physician in Baytown with the Houston Methodist Primary Care Group, says overexposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. Your best defense is to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. if possible.


When out in the sun:

• Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and protective clothing.

• Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply often.


“If you get sunburned, apply aloe vera gel or moisturizer, and take an over-the-counter pain reliever with your doctor’s OK to ease minor discomfort. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Call your health care provider if your skin blisters, or if you develop chills, fever or nausea,” Kulkarni said.


Water Safety

Follow these safeguards when enjoying water activities:

• Supervise children

• Swim in areas supervised by lifeguards

• Steer clear of swimming pool drains

• Wear life vests when boating

• Learn CPR


Beat the Heat

“Heat-related illness can become serious if it is not recognized and treated early. Heat exhaustion may happen with overexertion and not drinking enough water in hot weather. Heat stroke requires immediate medical help,” Kulkarni said.


Know these warning signs to prevent a hot-weather crisis. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

• Paleness and weakness

• Heavy sweating

• Headache, nausea or vomiting

• Muscle cramps


Signs of heat stroke include:

• Dizziness or confusion

• Red, hot, dry skin with no sweating

• Rapid heartbeat

• High body temperature


“If you suspect a heat-related illness, seek shade or move indoors. For heat exhaustion, lie down, prop up your feet and loosen tight clothing. Sip water and apply a cool, damp cloth to skin. Seek immediate medical attention if someone becomes faint or confused, or develops a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit,” Kulkarni explained.


Bug Off


Here are some treatments for common insect bites:

Bee stings. Remove the stinger by scraping or brushing it off with a firm edge, such as a credit card. “Wash the area with soap and water, and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion several times a day until symptoms subside. Use ice or a cold pack and take an antihistamine to reduce pain and swelling. Seek medical help immediately if someone is having a severe or allergic reaction to a bee sting,” Kulkarni said.

Signs of a severe reaction may include:

• Difficulty breathing

• Swelling of the lips or throat

• Feeling faint or disoriented

• Breaking out in hives

• Nausea, cramps and vomiting

• Rapid heartbeat


Tick bites. Check your skin for ticks after being in wooded areas. If you find a tick, use tweezers to remove the head and body. Wash your hands thoroughly after removal.

Mosquito bites. Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and redness. Wearing insect repellent helps protect you and your loved ones from illnesses like spotted fever, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), murine typhus, West Nile and Zika.


The Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital is taking every necessary precaution during the coronavirus pandemic to keep you and our staff members safe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are:

  • Screening all patients, ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are seen in the office
  • Wearing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing patient care
  • Reorganizing waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing
  • Implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces


To schedule an appointment with a Houston Methodist Baytown primary care physician, visit, or call 832.556.6670.