Whether you’re a sports first aider at a weekly football match or heading out on a wild camp in North Wales with a group, as the designated first aid for sports adviser, physical activity during the summer months comes with different risks to its cold weather counterpart.
Here are five summer-specific dangers you should be aware of to keep your first aid provisions and administrators up to date and properly prepared.
Heatwaves can be dangerous, especially for anyone participating in sports or other activities involving physical excursion outdoors. The Met Office is a great resource for finding out about the likelihood of a heatwave hitting the UK. They run a four-level warning system (level 4 being the most severe) to help people prepare.
Those most at risk during heatwaves are the very young, seniors, those with disabilities, those with breathing issues and those who are physically active (e.g. farm labourers, those partaking in sports, etc.). The main concerns during heatwaves are sunburn, dehydration, heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
Every first aid kit for any sport or physical activity should always contain liquids to combat the signs of dehydration. Minimising the risk is always the way to go, and that means participants taking short breaks to drink little and often throughout their match or activity.
3. Vitamin D and sunburn
We all need Vitamin D to stay healthy. And there’s no universal amount of time that each person should spend in the sun to boost health without overdoing it. A great deal of how our bodies handle sun and Vitamin D production is about things like skin colour, overall health, time of year and so on.
When participating in sports during summer months, Vitamin D production doesn’t tend to be much of an issue, which is great for us all!
But what about that other element of sun exposure – sunburn? Sunburn happens when our skin is exposed to UVA and UVB rays which cause red burns. Sunburn can creep up on those participating in sports very quickly, so make sure there’s sunscreen in that rugby medical kit along with with after-sun!
Encouraging all players to apply their own sunscreen is a great way to minimise the risks of sunburn.
4. Insect bites and stings
Here in the UK, we’re pretty lucky when it comes to lack of lethal insects. Most people will be bitten several times over the summer months, but as a first aider you need to be aware of how to deal with those who have bad reactions. Learn more about anaphylaxis here. Top biting or stinging insects in the UK include ticks, wasps, bees, hornets, mosquitoes, midges, ladybirds, bedbugs, horseflies, ants and some spiders.
5. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion
Both can develop into more serious conditions which can usually be avoided with regular rest, drinking little and often, and staying out of the sun on and off throughout the day. Heatstroke is the more serious, and occurs when the body cannot cool itself. It is a medical emergency and an ambulance should be called immediately. Learn about the symptoms and treatments for heat exhaustion and heatstroke here.