One of my most cherished childhood memories involves marching in the Memorial Day Parade. I can still remember the sound of “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn blaring out of old truck speakers and making my way up the hill towards a cold ice cream sandwich and bottled water. If you grew up in Taylor County, you know exactly what I’m talking about and just how appreciated that cold snack is. Throughout the years many things change, but the traditions and the heat on Memorial Day remain the same. That’s why the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department wants to remind the citizens of Taylor County to stay cool, hydrated, and protected from the sun during the upcoming festivities.
Funky tan lines aren’t the only negative side effect of staying in the sun too long. Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to all kinds of things like premature aging of the skin, wrinkling, sunburn, and even skin cancer. I know some people might say that they’d give an “arm and a leg” before they’d miss seeing the annual parade, but if you don’t prepare you could end up losing just that. So before you leave the house, apply SPF 15 or higher to all areas that will be exposed to the sun, and don’t forget your sunglasses!
In high temperatures, heat-related illnesses occur frequently and they can even be deadly if left untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most important step to preventing a heat-related illness is staying cool and hydrated. Staying cool is as easy as staying out of direct sunlight, wearing light-weight and light-colored clothing, and keeping yourself hydrated. In high temperatures, drinks with alcohol or large amounts of sugar don’t provide much hydration. So instead of packing a cooler full of your favorite beer or soda, opt for some bottled water instead. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to crack open the cooler, either. Make sure you’re drinking an adequate amount as frequently as possible.
In a small town like this, it’s not uncommon for people to look out for the well-being of their neighbors. So while you’re keeping an eye on things, look out for the warning signs of heat-related illness as well. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: heavy sweating, weakness, cold or clammy skin, weak or fast pulse, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. If you see someone with these symptoms move them to a cooler location, apply cool and wet cloths to as much of the body as possible, and give the person some cold water. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention immediately.
For more information regarding heat-related illnesses and how to prepare for high temperatures, please call our Public Health Nurse, Angela Flowers at 304-265-1288 or visit our new website at www.GTCHDWV.org.
The Grafton-Taylor County Health Department is featured in the Mountain Statesman every Wednesday in the Editorial section.