BATON ROUGE – Summertime is here. Many are enjoying the season by taking advantage of warmer weather and longer daylight hours. But, summer brings higher temperatures and swarms of mosquitoes, so it’s important to keep your health and safety in mind. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is sharing tips to beat the heat and fight the bite.
Sun and Heat Safety
Summer temperatures can climb into the triple digits, so it’s important to be careful of heatstroke.
“Have a buddy system where everyone in the family is checking on each other, especially when you’re going to be outdoors,” said Blue Cross Interim Senior Medical Director Dr. Larry Simon. “The heat can sneak up on you faster than you think. Don’t stay outside for long periods, especially at the hotter points of the day. And if you’re doing intense activity like exercise or yard work outdoors, have someone come with you in case you get sick and need help.”
If you become overheated and have symptoms like heavy sweating, tiredness, dizziness, rapid pulse, nausea, clammy skin or headache, seek medical attention immediately, Simon added.
Other tips to stay safe outdoors:
Wear sunscreen and sunglasses, even on cloudy days. Sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer, so take the time to apply sunscreen before going outdoors. You should also wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays that can harm your vision. UV rays can still get through when it’s overcast, so do this every time you’re headed outdoors, regardless of the weather.
Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is important in high temperatures to keep your body cool and lower your risk of heatstroke.
“Keep drinking water even if you’re not thirsty,” Dr. Simon said. “That’s really key for adults 65 and older because as we age, our sense of thirst lessens. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is starting to get dehydrated. So, set a goal for eight to 10 glasses of water a day and make sure you drink that much. Take it easy on alcoholic and caffeinated beverages because these can make you dehydrated.”
NEVER leave children or pets in vehicles. “A lot of people think, ‘I’ll only be in the store for a few minutes,’ but a few minutes is all it takes for very bad things to happen,” Dr. Simon said. “Children’s bodies don’t process heat the way ours do, and they can die if their temperature gets too high too quickly. Unfortunately, in the summer months inside a vehicle, it does not take long at all for the temperature to become dangerous.” The same is true for animals, who can get heatstroke and die after a short time in a parked car.
When putting children or pets into a vehicle, put with them an item you’ll need to take with you when you get out, like one of your shoes, your cell phone or your wallet. That will remind you to look before you lock.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Mosquito bites are not only itchy and annoying, they can make you sick. “Worldwide, mosquito bites are responsible for more diseases than any other cause,” Dr. Simon said. “Here in Louisiana, mosquitoes can spread dangerous and potentially deadly diseases like Zika virus, encephalitis and West Nile virus. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid getting bitten in the first place.”
If you’re headed outdoors, wear insect repellant and put on long sleeves and long pants.
Run fans if you’re sitting outside, as this helps prevent mosquitoes from landing (and biting).
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so look around your home and yard. Empty out planters, tires, children’s toys or other items that have collected water, especially after a heavy rainfall.
Check for and repair tears in door or window screens to keep mosquitoes from getting in. And, try to avoid propping open doors for long periods of time.
If you feel sick or have a mosquito bite that appears infected, see your healthcare provider.
Summer Sickness? Use BlueCare!
Many people travel during the summer, and if you or a family member gets sick, it can be hard to find a healthcare provider in an unfamiliar place. In these situations, telehealth can be a good option.
Blue Cross members can sign up for BlueCare, which lets you have online doctor visits 24/7. BlueCare doctors are available in all 50 states, so if you or someone covered on your health plan gets sick while traveling, you can use this service.
BlueCare and other telehealth programs are effective for treating routine illnesses like cough and cold, stomach viruses, pink eye, bladder infections, rashes or allergies. BlueCare doctors can give you a prescription or refill for medication to treat most health needs. In addition to medical visits, Blue Cross members can use BlueCare to schedule online behavioral health appointments with therapists, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists.
To sign up for BlueCare, go to www.BlueCareLA.com or get the BlueCare – that’s one word – app for Android and Apple devices. Then, you’ll be ready to click when you’re sick, at home or on the road.
One more summer health tip – “If you have not already, get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Simon said. “Louisianians ages 12 and older can make appointments for the vaccine, which is covered at $0 on your health plan. If you’re traveling or participating in group activities like summer camps or sports leagues this summer, the vaccine is the best way to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19.”
For more summer health tips, visit bcbsla.com/Summer or watch Blue Cross’ animated video Sun & Heat Safety (:30).
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube page to see short videos with the clinical team and others discussing various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates.