O N THE R OAD TO Promoting the health and wellness of people with disabilities North Dakota Disability Health Project July 2009 Issue 8 Beat the Heat! Summer is finally here… and so is the need to protect yourself from the dangers and risks associated with UV rays. It is important for everyone, including people with disabilities to take proper precautions. When you think of summer and sun, the first thought that may come to mind is sunburn, right? Well your skin is not the only thing that can be harmed by the UV rays, your eyes can also burn. Extensive or intense exposure to UV rays is linked to the development of eye conditions such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Your skin can also be affected by overexposure and can result in skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the US. With proper care for both your skin and eyes, you can enjoy the summer and beat the heat! Here are a few safety tips to follow when you choose to be out and about this summer: Whenever possible, avoid strenuous activity during peak hours when the heat and humidity levels are highest (usually between 10am and 4pm). This is especially important if you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to regulate your body temperature. Before you leave home, apply sunscreen of a SPF level of 15-30 at least 30 minutes before sun exposure. Sunglasses and a hat are also a smart choice to protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. Wear light-colored clothing that allows for circulation of air between your skin and the environment. Cotton or linen are good fabric choices in addition to synthetic fibers such as polypropylene fabric that help “wick” moisture away from your skin. You can often find this in a camping or sporting goods store. It is important to complete a thorough skin assessment before and after physical activity to ensure that you do not develop a pressure sore due to friction or moisture. Keep an eye out for skin changes in color or temperature (warmth or coolness), rashes, sores, odor or pain . Pay close attention to pressure points. To receive this newsletter by email or in an alternative format, call 800‐233‐1737. Hydrate your body. The key to preventing dehydration is to drink before you are thirsty. If you’re feeling thirsty, you should stop, rest, and drink some fluids. Also be aware of drinking the right fluids. For optimal absorption, a beverage should contain only 4% to 8% carbohydrate. This amount can be found in some sports drinks; however, fruit juices and sodas are closer to 10% carbohydrate (i.e., fructose or high-fructose corn syrup) and take longer to be absorbed. Water is always a good choice. Watch for signs and symptoms of heat stroke. Heat stroke is caused by the body’s inability to rid itself of excess heat that results in a sudden rise in body temperature. Signs include very hot and dry skin, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and unconsciousness. Call 911 and seek emergency medical assistance if you suspect heat stroke. Some medications can make people more sensitive to the sun. Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the risk of any medicines you may be taking that could increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Individuals with intellectual disabilities who are supported by staff may not be able to express their increased need for sunscreen and fluids or are unable to access them independently, frequently offering fluids and sunscreen to your clients can help prevent sun damage and dehydration. Also, a good rule of thumb, if a staff person is consuming a beverage, then the person they support should have one too. Source: Rauworth, Amy. F.I.T.T.: Beat the Summer Heat, Save Money, and Go Green! 07-08-2008 http:// www.ncpad.org/fitt/fact_sheet.php?sheet=632 July is UV Safety Month, Talking Points. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http:// www.aao.org/aaoesite/eyemd/uv.cfm Additional Resources A great resource for providers and staff who support individuals with intellectual disabilities is the Massachusetts Dept. of Mental Retardation, Spring/Summer 09 issue of Living Well. Visit www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dmr/livingwell_2009summer.rtf To learn more about how to prevent summer related illness, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/ extremeheat/heattips.asp To learn more about protecting your eyes from the sun, visit the Web site for Prevent Blindness America at http://www.preventblindness.org/uv/. To learn more about protecting your skin from the sun, visit the American Cancer Society online at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/PED_7.asp. The ND Disability Health Project can provide technical assistance to assist with health promotion, staff training and education, and disability awareness. Contact us at 800.233.1737 or visit our website at www.ndcpd.org/health . North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities Minot State University 500 University Ave. W. Minot, ND 58707 1.800.233.1737 701.858.3580 www.ndcpd.org/health Project staff : Brent Askvig Principal Investigator 701-858-3052 [email protected] Kari Arrayan Program Director 701-858-3048 [email protected] Kylene Kraft Project Assistant 701-858-4365 [email protected] Korie Huettl Administrative Assistant 701-858-4154 [email protected] Vision: All people in ND have access to information and services they need to maintain good health and wellness. There are no health disparities between people with and without disabilities that are based solely on the presence of a disability. Pay It Forward….. Pass it on to others who may find this information helpful. Health-related information provided in this fact sheet is for informational purposes only and should not replace advice from a medical professional. The ND Disability Health Project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through a grant (1 u59 DD000278-01) to the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the CDC.
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