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PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center How to have a safe summer Summer is the ultimate laid-back time—think flip-flops, T-shirts and barbecues. Although it’s easy to be casual about many things in the summer, it’s not good to be casual about safety. With warm weather comes the risk for certain injuries and health problems—some serious enough to be life-threatening. Here are some suggestions on how to keep you and your family safe so you can enjoy lots of summer fun this season: • Pollen allergy. Pollen is a major trigger for hay fever (allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis) as well as asthma and in some cases allergic skin conditions like eczema and hives. Seasonal pollens come from 3 sources: trees, grasses and weeds. Some people with allergies may be sensitive to all of these while others are only affected by one type. Because plants vary from region to region, the Northwest has a unique set of pollens. In our region, trees pollinate March & April, grasses pollinate May – July, weeds pollinate late June through the end of summer. Warm, sunny and windy conditions favor pollen dispersal where rainy damp conditions decrease pollen counts. Living in the county increases exposure to pollen. If pollen exposure affects your health, consider simple ways to decrease exposure including wearing sun glasses when outdoors, removing pollen contaminated clothing upon entering the home, showering and rinsing off skin and hair when coming indoors (family members and pets too), using air conditioning when traveling in cars. If these are not sufficient, medical treatment is available, so discuss further with your primary care physician or allergist. • Know the signs of anaphylaxis. This potentially deadly allergic reaction is commonly triggered by certain foods, insect stings, medications and, for some, high exposure to airborne allergens like pollens. Symptoms generally include a skin rash (flushing, itching, hives or swelling) with sudden change in breathing (severe cough, wheezing or struggling to breath) and/or lightheadedness or losing consciousness. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, including an injection of the drug epinephrine and a trip to the hospital emergency department. Early recognition and prompt treatment saves lives. For those with a history of these symptoms, carrying injectable epinephrine is critical. • Secure home windows. Opening the windows is a must if you don’t have air conditioning or if you’re simply trying to keep your electric bill in check. But keep this in mind if children are in your home: every year thousands of kids in the U.S. are killed or injured in falls from windows. You can’t depend on screens to keep children safe. Your best choice is to install window guards or window stops—especially on Continued on page 4 2 Lynden Tribune & Ferndale Record • Health Care Guide - June 2014

Whatcom County Health Care Guide 2014

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