Bring water, bug spray and plan to wait.
Local practitioners offered such tips on the eve of summer’s official kickoff — Memorial Day.
“Make sure to stay hydrated … with water,” Carteret Health Care spokeswoman Michelle Lee advised. “We see our population almost double during the holidays and definitely during the summer months.”
Even if it’s cloudy, apply sunscreen and bring it on beach trips, she added.
Dr. Daniel Abraham, a board certified dermatologist at Central Coast Dermatology advises having fun in the sun and safety.
“Try to avoid direct exposure to the midday sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., always use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a SPF of 30-50, and wear protective clothing-especially a broad-brimmed hat to protect the head and neck,” said Abraham, in the Onslow Memorial Hospital May newsletter. “As far as tanning beds-do not ever use them! That’s just asking for trouble.”
He also advises having a good beach umbrella.
“A good beach umbrella or tent is really worth the investment, but use it in addition to personal sunscreen,” Abraham said.
Urgent-care centers along the coast experience a surge in cases with patients in pain after jaunts into the sound or ocean.
“Stingrays, jellyfish, fishhooks, we see all sorts of things,” said Michael Wall, physician assistant with Med First Urgent Care and Family Practice in Swansboro and Emerald Isle. “A lot of people go out and cut their feet in the oyster beds in the sound. Make sure you wear water shoes. Some people cut their feet to pieces.”
Saltwater isn’t a clean solution for those cuts, he added.
“There’s tons of bacteria in the ocean. It just makes them get more infected,” Wall said. “Jellyfish and stingrays, the barbs have a ton of bacteria on them.”
Swimmer’s ear also can be problematic.
“That’s a big one, especially with the kiddos,” Wall said. “There’s some good over-the-counter drops that can dry the ear and prevent swimmer’s ear. Once they get swimmers ear, they typically need antibiotic drops.”
Wall has seen fishhooks gouged in all sorts of body parts, he said.
“Some still have the lures attached, those shiny lures. Literally, we have big pliers we take and have to rip them out of there,” he said.
And there’s another potential danger for anglers.
“We even get people who fish and catch them and end up getting stung,” he said.
He provides care for roughly 25-30 people daily during the summer.
Lee reminded families to keep watch on all children.
“Always make sure someone is a designated child-watcher,” Lee said. “It’s easy to think everybody else is watching.”
At Carteret General, wait times can be mitigated by making a sort of reservation — online at CarteretHealth.org — before heading to the emergency department.
“Let’s say doing late evening fishing and you get a cut. If it’s not urgent, you can go online and schedule a time to come into the emergency department,” Lee said. “Wait in the comfort of your home and then come in. It reduces your wait time the emergency department.”
Health care workers gather the waiting patient’s email for correspondence before the visit.
“They may tell you to come in sooner,” she said of the program initiated in March. “We haven’t had it that long. We have people using it every day.”
Onslow County Health Department officials said even a rainy holiday could expose people to vector-borne illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain Fever or West Nile Virus.
Department spokeswoman Pam Brown said campers should heed the heat and use sunscreen — “do so appropriately,” she said.
“And follow instructions and use insect repellent appropriately,” she added. “They may be traveling to other states with more vector-borne illnesses. If they’re going to the woods, they may find ticks. The sooner you get a tick off of you, the better. Not all ticks have disease.”
Those traveling in a vehicle should bring an emergency kit that’s appropriate for this season, she said.
“And let people know what your travel plans are,” she said. “That way, they know when they should expect you.”
When cooking outside, she also advised holiday gatherers to use grills appropriately — with adequate ventilation and space.
“There are many accidents with grilling,” she said. “Keep an eye on the fire pit or grill, or the patio torch. Make sure it’s not getting tippy.”
For more information, visit OnslowCountyNC.gov/Health/.