Fun in the sun? Play it cool and be careful!

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume 112, No. 7/8July, 2012

Cindy Green, LCSW

The office of the Musicians’ Assistance Program is your one-stop shop for musicians’ health. We offer counseling – both one-on-one and in groups – as well as information on all kinds of social services, including health insurance, housing, food stamps and more. All services are free to Local 802 members. Contact us at or (212) 397-4802

Summer has arrived and it’s time to dive in and enjoy the warm weather, bright sunlight, and everything else that the season has to offer. Summer means cookouts, maybe a pool party and just more time outdoors. As with all good things, there are some pitfalls to avoid during this time of year. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we head into the warm weather.

Keeping yourself hydrated during the summer months is critical. Drink water and electrolyte replacement drinks to ward off dehydration and heat stroke

Mild dehydration can be alleviated by drinking water but more severe heat stroke may need more serious attention.

If you start to develop headaches, nausea or confusion, it is time to contact a medical provider or go to your nearest emergency room.

Spending a portion of a really hot day in air conditioned spaces is a great way to avoid overheating.

There are many benefits to sunlight. It can:

  • Improve your mood

  • Relieve arthritis

  • Help your body synthesize vitamin D.

But everything in moderation. Too much sunlight can result in the unpleasant and potentially dangerous sunburn. More severe cases will present as severe skin burning, blisters, dehydration and possible infection. Seek medical attention for the more serious cases, if flu-like symptoms develop or if the condition is complicated by other medical concerns.

The best way to prevent sunburn is to avoid direct sun exposure. Stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when it’s at its strongest. Find shade when outdoors and wear lightweight, light colored clothing to cover your skin. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher; also, use one that says “broad-spectrum.” These protect from both ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays.

One of the more frustrating aspects of summer is the itching and scratching after a mosquito has made a meal of you. These annoying creatures are most prominent at dusk and dawn. So, if you can, avoid the outdoors briefly during these times.

When you just can’t stay indoors, use insect repellent for the exposed areas of your body. Cover as much of your skin as possible with lightweight clothing for extra protection from the bugs. If you do fall victim to these pesky little bugs, expect the bite to go away within the week. In the meantime, use cold compresses or icepack to relieve itching. Also, anti-itch products, such as calamine lotion, are effective.

If you’re planning a trip to the country this season, keep your eyes open for poison ivy. Identified as a green, three-leaved plant, sometimes with yellow or purplish color, poison ivy can grow almost anywhere. If you suspect poison ivy in the vicinity of your activity, be sure to cover your skin with clothes and even boots. The oil from the plants can stay on your clothes so be careful getting undressed and wash your clothes immediately. If you happen to see any plants with three leaves, simply do not touch them. If you do get poison ivy, symptoms will likely appear between 12 and 48 hours. The more quickly your skin absorbs the plant oil, the sooner the irritation will appear. Redness, itching, swelling or blisters are all symptoms. Again, anti-itch lotions are useful and can relieve some discomfort. Most of the time, it’s not a serious problem but see a doctor if:

  • The reaction is severe or widespread.

  • The rash affects sensitive areas of your body, such as your eyes, mouth or genitals.

  • Blisters are oozing pus.

  • You develop a fever greater than 100 F (37.8 C).

  • The rash doesn’t get better within a few weeks

Food-borne illnesses increase during the summer months primarily due to the rise in temperature and food consumption outdoors. Increased temperatures create an optimal environment for bacteria growth. This is a particular risk to consider at any all day barbecue that lasts from noon to midnight; where the potato salad and sandwiches have been sitting out in the heat for hours. Anything with mayonnaise should not be in the hot sun. If you are going to be outdoors for a long time, bring food that does not need refrigeration, like trail mix or snack bars. Also, bring a cooler packed with ice if possible. It will keep your food cold before you use it and store it safely until after the barbeque.

If you’re concerned about additional summer safety issues, feel free to contact the MAP office at (212) 397-4802 or We wish all members and their families a happy summer season.