Birds chirping, longer days and Azalea bushes blooming are all signs that spring is right around the corner. With the return of warmer temperatures the opportunity for exploration and being closer to nature is always available, especially in South Carolina. Whether you’re relaxing in the backyard, turning up your garden, hitting the pool, or exploring the great outdoors, here are some ways to help keep you and your family healthy and safe this season.
Beware of Bugs
Warmer temperatures don’t just attract people; it also attracts mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, eastern equine encephalitis virus and even dengue; ticks can transmit Lyme disease and other serious infections; and fleas can transmit plague.
After coming indoors, shower as soon as possible and check your body for ticks. Make sure that your children also bathe and are checked for ticks and wash and tumble dry your clothing. Don’t forget your pets; they can bring ticks inside too. If you find an attached tick, don’t panic, ticks are easy to remove with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Consult a healthcare provider if you develop a rash, fever, body aches, fatigue or headache, stiff neck, and disorientation one to three weeks following a bite.
Pesticides, vegetation-free play areas, and landscaping techniques for tick-free zones can also help limit your exposure to ticks and other insects.
While you’re outside enjoying the weather, remember to protect your pets. Keeping healthy pets will help keep you and your family healthy. Children can get roundworm and hookworm from soil contaminated by pet feces, so make sure that puppies and kittens are seen by a veterinarian to be de-wormed. Protect family pets from ticks and fleas by keeping them on a flea and tick control program. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on the appropriate anti-bug products to use on your pet.
Spring is also the time of year that snakes are out and about. Please be aware that in South Carolina there are six poisonous snakes: Copperhead, Coral Snake, Cottonmouth (also known as a "Water Moccasin"), Pigmy Rattlesnake, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, and the Timer Rattlesnake (also known as a "Canebrake"). What’s the best defense if you encounter these snakes? Just let them have their space. Remember, snakes do help keep the rodent population down.
Fun in the Sun
Protect yourself and your family from recreational water illnesses by doing your part to keep germs out of the pool. Do not swim when you have diarrhea, don’t swallow pool water, take a shower before swimming, and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Keeping germs out of the pool means a healthier swimming experience for everyone.
To help prevent skin cancer, avoid being outdoors during the midday when the sun is most intense, use sunscreen with at least SPF 15, cover up with clothing, and wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.
Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion which include confusion, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin, profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat. If you see someone with these symptoms have them rest in a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area and have them drink plenty of water.
Get out and enjoy this weather!