t is that time of the year – summer. Who doesn’t love summer? Trips to the lake or beach, days by the pool and longer days with sunshine could consume the summer. We can also plan accordingly for the days of the week, but know some days can be extremely hot and humid with the occasional thunderstorms. Therefore, it is important to provide summer safety tips to our patients that have diabetes so that they can be safe during the summer when it comes to self-management.
Since June is National Safety Month, I wanted to share a few tips that I discuss with my patients about summer safety and diabetes:
- It is important to be cleared by your physician before starting physical activity in extreme temperatures. Patients should plan in advance when they may be active during the day. For example, patients could look at the weather forecast at least two days in advance to prepare and plan for the appropriate timing of their activity. It may be best for some people to be active very early in the morning when temperatures and humidity are low.
- If a patient needs to be outside during peak hours, she or he should be advised to wear the appropriate clothing, which would include, but not limited to long sleeve shirts, hats and sunglasses. Patients need to wear the appropriate socks, preferably white cotton socks, and the appropriate footwear when out exercising or enjoying the summer weather. If the patient goes to the beach, it is advisable that they do not walk barefoot on the hot sand, especially if the patient has a history of neuropathy. Patients should be advised to wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen and apply frequently.
- If they are active and outside on a hot and humid day, patients should stay well hydrated. Water is the preferred choice. Some patients may ask about sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade, PowerAde). I recommend against sports drinks as fluid replacement; if the patient needs “taste” for their drink, encourage adding some fruit into the water. Patients should limit intake of caffeine-containing drinks, as caffeine can serve as a diuretic and may make the patient dehydrated.
- Keeping a glucometer nearby and readily available is ideal during the summer. Hypoglycemic episodes may be unpredictable for a patient, therefore, best practice is to carry a glucometer with a couple pieces of hard candy – just in case.
These are just a few tips that I think about when educating patients about summer safety. What additional tips do you offer to patients for summer safety?
About the Author
Jennifer Clements received her Doctorate of Pharmacy from Campbell University in 2006 and completed a primary care residency at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2007. She is also a certified diabetes educator and board certified in pharmacotherapy. Currently, she is the Interim Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy.