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Illinois Department of Public Health Offers State Fair and Summer Festival Health Tips

News – Thursday, August 6, 2015

SPRINGFIELD – Whether it’s the state fair, county fair, or a summer festival, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. says taking five simple precautions can help keep you healthy.
 
“We want people to enjoy their visit to the state fair, as well as other outdoor events.  These tips will help everyone avoid some of the more common hazards associated with the summer season,” said Director Shah.
 
#1 Wear sunscreen:  Applying sunscreen is a quick and easy thing to do, and all skin types need protection from the sun.  For the most effective protection, be sure to apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and then reapply every two hours.  Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s harmful rays in as little as 15 minutes, yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effects of sun exposure.  Wear sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and one that has both UVA and UVB protection. 
 
#2 Stay Cool: Sunburn and heat exhaustion are the most common heat-related conditions.  However, prolonged heat exposure can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal.  A person can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke after spending too much time in the heat, indoors or out, or from overexposure to direct sunlight.  Along with increasing your intake of fluids, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. 
 
A person suffering from heat exhaustion will often be sweating heavily and their skin will be cool and wet.  Symptoms also include dizziness, nausea, or a flushed complexion.  If these symptoms are present, move the person to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing, apply cool, wet cloths, and give cool water to slowly drink.  A person suffering from heat stroke will often have hot, dry skin, hallucinations, chills, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness, a throbbing headache, and slurred speech.  If a person is suspected of having heatstroke, seek medical attention immediately.
 
#3 Wear Insect Repellent:  Protect both you and your family from mosquito bites – and the risk of West Nile Virus (WNV) – by ensuring everyone has on insect repellent.  Mosquitoes that typically carry WNV are stealthy biters and you may not notice them.  Repellents found to be the most effective include those that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535. 
 
#4 Drink Water: Make an extra effort to drink more water and stay ahead of your thirst.  Try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as well as those with large amounts of sugar as they can lead to dehydration.
 
#5 Wash Your Hands: With everything from corn dogs to cotton candy to eat, and horses and hogs to see and pet at the fair, you’ll want to make sure you properly wash your hands. 

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Dry your hands using a disposable paper towel whenever possible.
  • Turn off the water with a paper towel and then throw the towel away.

If soap and clean water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing liquid to clean your hands.  Alcohol-based hand gels significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast acting.
 
Following these simple steps can make your visit to the state fair a healthier and happier one.