Fort Berthold Diabetes Program

Summertime First Aid

By Delia Howling Wolf – Medical Support Assistant


Summertime is finally here! School is out for the summer.  We are all headed to the lake, camping, hiking, grilling and yes, even pow wows.  It also means humidity, mosquitos and intense heat.  While it is a fun time of the year, it also means you need to keep a close eye on your health.  First aid in the summer is different than winter. Dangers like poisonous plants, sunburns, dehydration and insect bites are all right around the corner.   Do you know what to do if a minor injury or illness occurs?  When dealing with a first aid emergency, seek medical attention by calling 911

Sprains, strains and muscle injuries

These injuries can happen during physical activity, and may include the stretching and tearing of ligaments.  They can range from mild to severe.  If you suffer a sprain or strain, rest, ice and elevate the injured area.  Do not use the injured area and if it causes pain, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Rashes from poison ivy, oak and sumac

Poisonous plants like poison ivy, poison oak or sumac can cause an allergic reaction on the skin.  The resin in the leaves can transfer from the leaves to the skin, clothing or shoes, and a painful rash can appear within hours or up to two days after exposure.  If you come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak or sumac, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water immediately.  Treat the itching with colloid oatmeal baths, a baking soda and water paste, calamine lotion, or topical hydrocortisone cream.  Visit your provider or urgent care center if the rash does not go away or gets worse.

Food Poisoning

Even more so due to the hot weather, food poisoning can occur when you eat something that has been contaminated with bacteria.  Foods may be contaminated with improper cooking, or if they are left out when the temperatures are higher for extended periods of time.  If you suspect you might have food poisoning, rest and drink clear fluids.  Visit your provider or urgent care if you have signs of shock, dehydration or confusion.

Heat-related health issues

Heat exhaustion can lead into heatstroke.  Often, heat cramps are caused by activity in a hot environment, and is most common in the lower legs and abdominal muscles.  If this occurs, stop the activity and sit in a cool place (like air conditioning or shade).  Drink Fluids and avoid strenuous activity for a few hours.  Some of the heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include cool and clammy skin, an increase in sweating, headache, irritability, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, fainting, weakness and increased thirst.  Heat stroke signs and symptoms include: flushed and hot, dry skin, not sweating, seizures, a loss of consciousness that may lead to coma, rapid heartbeat and breathing, confusion, weakness and severe headache, body temperature 105 or higher.  Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency so seek medical attention immediately.

Bee Stings

Make sure the stinger is removed from the wound.  Clean with soap and water, apply a cool compress such as a washcloth and then apply a small amount of hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to soothe the pain.  Sometimes stings can cause serious allergic reaction.  If you have extreme swelling, signs of shock, muscle paralysis or trouble breathing, please 911 or seek immediate medical attention.


Have them sit upright, leaning forward.  This reduces the blood pressure in the veins of the nose, and will help them avoid swallowing of blood.  You may pinch the nose with thumb and index finger for 5 to 10 minutes, hopefully this will stop the flow of blood.  If the nose bleeds longer than 20 minutes, or if this was caused by a fall or injury to the head, call 911.

Scrapes and cuts

Scrapes and cuts occur a lot with children, especially when they’re playing outside during the summer.  Make sure to clean the area under running water for a minimum of 90 seconds to try to remove debris while doing so.  It will also wash away bacteria.  Gently wash the wound with soap and water. Pat dry with a clean cloth.  If you need to, apply pressure to stop the bleeding.  Apply antibiotic cream to the wound and bandage it up.  If the wound is bleeding profusely or is deep, you will need to go to the ER or call 911.

What should be in your summer first aid kit:

Sanitizing wipes Latex gloves (non-latex)

Antiseptic towelettes Neosporin

Calamine Lotion Hydrocortisone cream

Bandages of all sizes Ace Bandage

Insect repellant Sunscreen

Tweezers Instant ice packs

Over-the-counter painkillers Saline solution

Cotton balls and cotton swabs

If you are ever in doubt about how to treat a summer injury or illness, visit your provider or closest urgent care facility.