Summer comes with a heavy workload for outdoor workers in Arkansas — along with heat advisories, ticks and other outdoor risks. Spokesmen with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture urge residents to be safe.
Tips for sun and heat safety
Lisa Washburn, associate professor-health for the U of A System Division of Agriculture, said one important factor in outdoor safety is staying hydrated when heat indexes are high.
“Drink more fluids, regardless of activity. Don’t wait to feel thirsty to drink,” Washburn said. “It’s easier to become dehydrated in temperatures 90 degrees or higher. A good rule of thumb is to drink a quart of fluids an hour if you are outside on high heat index days.”
Protection from harsh sun rays and skin cancer prevention should be priorities this summer as well, and Washburn suggested some tips for navigating the overwhelming selection of sunscreen on store shelves.
“Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 15 or higher,” she said. “If you have skin that burns easily, or a history of skin cancer, SPF 30 or higher is advised. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen. A broad spectrum product will protect from both UVA and UVB rays.”
Heat-related illnesses are a real danger for those outside during the summer months, so it’s important to recognize symptoms before it’s too late.
Heat-related illness symptoms
1. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse.
2. Heat stroke symptoms include body temperatures above 103 degrees, red, hot and dry skin with no sweating, a rapid, strong pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion and loss of consciousness.
Tamara Walkingstick, associate professor-forestry, said foresters and any outdoor workers should also be mindful of their surroundings this summer.
“Anyone spending time outdoors needs to take measures to avoid exposure to poison ivy, prevent ticks and watch out for snakes,” she said.
Tips to avoid ticks
1. Avoid tick hideouts such as wooded, brushy areas;
2. When going to tick environments, wear light-colored clothing, long sleeved shirts, and long pants tucked into boots;
3. Use skin-safe repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535;
4. Once inside, carefully inspect yourself and your children for ticks;
5. Keep lawn mowed and free of leaf litter and tall grass;
6. Discourage tick-carrying wild animals from yard by cleaning up food and wood piles and use tick control on pets;
7. Consider chemical control in tick-infested yards.
Tips to avoid snakes
1. Pattern your outdoor activity to avoid snakes – they are more active at night during the summer months, and more active during the daylight hours in the late fall and early spring;
2. Rocky areas and leaf litter can camouflage a snake – be alert;
3. Be careful when cleaning debris. Use a wooden pole to inspect or flip objects over before moving them. If possible, don’t put fingers under objects you intend to move;
4. If you encounter a snake, step back and allow it to go on its way. Snakes don’t usually move fast and you can retreat from their path.
For more information on encountering native snakes visit https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-9102.pdf.
Details: A local cooperative extension agent or visit www.uaex.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, contact a county extension office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
— Sarah Cato is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.