O   R

O N THE R OAD TO Promoting the health
and wellness of people
with disabilities
North Dakota Disability Health Project
July 2009
Issue 8
Beat the Heat!
Summer is finally here… and so is the need to protect
yourself from the dangers and risks associated with UV rays.
It is important for everyone, including people with disabilities
to take proper precautions.
When you think of summer and sun, the first thought that
may come to mind is sunburn, right? Well your skin is not
the only thing that can be harmed by the UV rays, your eyes
can also burn. Extensive or intense exposure to UV rays is
linked to the development of eye conditions such as cataracts
and age-related macular degeneration. Your skin can also be
affected by overexposure and can result in skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the US. With
proper care for both your skin and eyes, you can enjoy the summer and beat the heat!
Here are a few safety tips to follow when you choose to be out and about this summer:
Whenever possible, avoid strenuous activity during peak hours when the heat and humidity levels
are highest (usually between 10am and 4pm). This is especially important if you have a disability
that makes it difficult for you to regulate your body
Before you leave home, apply sunscreen of a SPF level
of 15-30 at least 30 minutes before sun exposure.
Sunglasses and a hat are also a smart choice to protect
your eyes. Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100
percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
Wear light-colored clothing that allows for circulation
of air between your skin and the environment. Cotton
or linen are good fabric choices in addition to synthetic
fibers such as polypropylene fabric that help “wick”
moisture away from your skin. You can often find this
in a camping or sporting goods store. It is important to
complete a thorough skin assessment before and after
physical activity to ensure that you do not develop a
pressure sore due to friction or moisture. Keep an eye
out for skin changes in color or temperature (warmth
or coolness), rashes, sores, odor or pain .
Pay close attention to pressure points.
To receive this newsletter by email or in an alternative format, call 800‐233‐1737. 
Hydrate your body. The key to preventing dehydration is to drink before
you are thirsty. If you’re feeling thirsty, you should stop, rest, and drink
some fluids. Also be aware of drinking the right fluids. For optimal
absorption, a beverage should contain only 4% to 8% carbohydrate.
This amount can be found in some sports drinks; however, fruit juices
and sodas are closer to 10% carbohydrate (i.e., fructose or high-fructose
corn syrup) and take longer to be absorbed. Water is always a good
Watch for signs and symptoms of heat stroke. Heat stroke is caused by
the body’s inability to rid itself of excess heat that results in a sudden rise
in body temperature. Signs include very hot and dry skin, nausea,
dizziness, confusion, and unconsciousness. Call 911 and seek emergency
medical assistance if you suspect heat stroke.
Some medications can make people more sensitive to the sun. Ask your
doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the risk of any medicines you may be
taking that could increase your sensitivity to sunlight.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities who are supported by staff may
not be able to express their increased need for sunscreen and fluids or
are unable to access them independently, frequently offering fluids and
sunscreen to your clients can help prevent sun damage and dehydration.
Also, a good rule of thumb, if a staff person is consuming a beverage,
then the person they support should have one too.
Rauworth, Amy. F.I.T.T.: Beat the Summer Heat, Save Money, and Go Green! 07-08-2008 http://
July is UV Safety Month, Talking Points. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://
Additional Resources
 A great resource for providers and staff who support individuals with intellectual
disabilities is the Massachusetts Dept. of Mental Retardation, Spring/Summer 09 issue
of Living Well. Visit www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dmr/livingwell_2009summer.rtf
 To learn more about how to prevent summer related illness, visit the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/
 To learn more about protecting your eyes from the sun, visit the Web site for Prevent
Blindness America at http://www.preventblindness.org/uv/.
 To learn more about protecting your skin from the sun, visit the American Cancer
Society online at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/PED_7.asp.
The ND Disability Health Project can provide technical assistance to assist with health promotion, staff training and education, and disability awareness. Contact us at 800.233.1737 or visit our website at www.ndcpd.org/health . North Dakota Center for
Persons with Disabilities
Minot State University
500 University Ave. W.
Minot, ND 58707
Project staff :
Brent Askvig
Principal Investigator
[email protected]
Kari Arrayan
Program Director
[email protected]
Kylene Kraft
Project Assistant
[email protected]
Korie Huettl
Administrative Assistant
[email protected]
All people in ND have
access to information and
services they need to
maintain good health and
wellness. There are no
health disparities between
people with and without
disabilities that are based
solely on the presence of
a disability.
Pay It Forward…..
Pass it on to others who may
find this information helpful.
Health-related information provided in this fact sheet is for informational purposes only and should not replace advice from a medical professional. The ND
Disability Health Project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through a grant (1 u59 DD000278-01) to the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the CDC.