(NC)-Warm summer days filled with bright sunshine aren't always good for you. Over exposure to sunlight can cause serious sunburn, pain and the long-term risk of skin cancer. St. John Ambulance, Canada's leader in safety-oriented™ first aid training and products, points out that you can still enjoy sun if you reduce risk by taking precautions.
People with fair skin are most susceptible to sunburns. However, no matter what the skin type, the harmful effects of the sun, such as sunburn, can be sustained by anyone.
Prevention is your best defense. Use a sunscreen strong enough to block out harmful rays. Remember to apply it liberally many times over the course of a day in the sun as it will soak into skin, evaporate and be washed off in water.
Don't stay outdoors for extended periods without covering exposed skin. Never leave tender skin exposed for more than a few minutes at a time. Wear a light, sun repellent cover over bathing suits or other light clothing. Always keep your head and eyes protected.
First Aid for sunburn
Sunburns can be very serious. Ranging from mild discomfort to severe burning over a large portion of the body, extreme sunburn can be further complicated by heatstroke. For minor sunburn, St. John Ambulance suggests the following first aid:
- Check the casualty thoroughly to determine the extent and severity of the burn.
- Get out of the sun immediately.
- Cover the burn with a wet towel or gently sponge the area with cool water to relieve pain.
- Pat the skin dry and apply medicated sunburn ointment or lotion. Apply according to directions on the package and watch for warning signs of an allergic reaction.
- Protect burnt areas from further exposure to the sun.
- Don't break blisters - doing so may promote infection. If large areas of the skin begin to blister, seek medical help.
- If the casualty begins to vomit or develops a fever, give first aid for heatstroke and get medical help.
First Aid for heatstroke
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition in which the body's temperature rises far above normal. The body's temperature control mechanism fails, sweating may stop and the body temperature rises rapidly. When you notice rapid pulse, noisy breathing, convulsions or vomiting and hot, flushed skin, give first aid for heatstroke.
- Check the casualty for symptoms of heatstroke. Lowering the body temperature is the most urgent first aid for heatstroke.
- Move the casualty to a cool, shaded place or indoors if possible. Call for medical help.
- Cool the casualty by removing clothing, covering with a wet sheet, immersing in cool water or sponging with cool water, especially in the armpits, neck and groin areas.
- When the body feels cool to the touch, cover the casualty with a dry sheet. If temperature begins to rise again, repeat step three.
- Continue to monitor the casualty until medical help is available.
St. John Ambulance is Canada's leader in first aid training and products. For more than 118 years, St. John Ambulance has provided services to prevent injury and reduce suffering. For more information on high quality St. John Ambulance training and products, contact the branch nearest you or visit our website, www.sja.ca.
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