Follow these tips for a fun and safe excursion, whether playing in a park or hiking up a mountain.
- Prevent blisters: Foot blisters have probably ended more outings than all major illnesses combined. To minimize the friction generated by walking, limit the load you are carrying. Use a padded insole or arch support to evenly distribute pressure over the bottom surface of the foot. Make sure shoes fit properly and are broken in, and try on new shoes in the evening because feet tend to swell during the day. Wearing a synthetic liner sock under an outer sock can wick moisture away from the skin surface and prevent friction on the skin.
- Check for ticks: Search the skin and scalp thoroughly for ticks after hiking in wooded areas or walking through grassy fields, and remove any ticks with a tweezers by grasping the tick close to its mouthparts and pulling it straight out. Even if you are dressed appropriately for “tick country” tiny ticks may sneak under gaps in clothing protection and latch on to their human hosts.
- Treat poison ivy, sumac, and oak: After contact with poison ivy, sumac, or oak, wash the affected area of the skin with soap and cool water, or use rubbing alcohol to remove the resin (the substance in the plants that causes rashes). Commercial poison ivy washes are also available. Wash all clothes, sleeping bags, and pets with soap and water because the resin can persist for years, particularly on woolen garments and blankets. Once a rash has occurred, calamine lotion can be used to soothe, cool, and dry the skin. Soaking in an oatmeal bath or in a bath of tepid water with baking soda and linnet starch may also calm itchy and irritated skin.
- Avoid altitude sickness: When hiking in the mountains, avoid sudden or direct ascent to a sleeping altitude above 9,020 feet; the rate of ascent should not exceed 1,500 feet per day at altitudes above 8,000 feet. Adjusting to high altitude requires gradual exposure to the lower oxygen content of the air. When traveling at high altitudes, avoid the use of alcohol, stay warm, stay hydrated, avoid exhaustion, keep out of the wind, and eat regularly to avoid weight loss.
Tomorrow, I’ll give tips on staying safe by the water.