Be Safe Viewing the Solar Eclipse

Monday, Aug. 21 is an exciting opportunity to watch a rare astronomical event — the solar eclipse. But there are safety precautions that need to be taken in order to view the eclipse safely and to prevent damage from occurring to your eyes.

Looking directly at the eclipse can be dangerous

The sun has a wide spectrum of light that can damage the eye. In regular daylight, you can’t look directly at the sun because it is too bright, causing your pupil to contract and preventing all of the sun’s rays from reaching the back of the eye where it causes the most damage.

The danger during an eclipse is that it becomes darker outside, so people can look directly at the sun without their pupils contracting, allowing infrared rays from the sun to penetrate to the back of the eye, causing structural damage to parts of the retina.

The ability to look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse can cause a false sense of security in some. However, the infrared rays that reach the eye can leave a photochemical burn on the retina.

This damage often shows delayed effects, and it is not for hours after the burn that an individual might start noticing black spots appearing in their sight, flashing light or blurred vision. Once damage occurs, there is not a way to treat it. People just have to wait and see if it ends up healing itself or, in some cases, an individual might have permanent damage to their vision.

Tips for watching safely

Luckily, people can still enjoy a solar eclipse with a little planning in advance. We suggest people follow these steps before viewing:

  • Wear specific solar eclipse glasses that have the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) number of 12312-2 visible on the glasses. This verifies that the lens meets safety standards for solar eclipse viewing
  • Before using glasses, make sure to check them for damages, chips or scratches to ensure the lens is in proper working order
  • Practice putting on eye wear in advance. Put the glasses on while looking at the ground before looking up at the bright sun. After you are done viewing the eclipse, make sure to look back at the ground before removing your glasses
  • If you plan on using binoculars, cameras, telescopes or similar devices, the instruments must also have a solar filter placed on the front of the device to cover the lens
  • Do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses. This can actually concentrate the solar rays, damaging the lens filter and allowing the light to enter your eye

The total eclipse begins at 1:02 p.m. and will last approximately 90 seconds. The official watch locations on campus include the City Campus Green Space and the East Campus Mall.

Students, faculty and staff can pick up free eclipse glasses at the following locations: 

  • RED PIN – location with shifts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • BLUE PIN – location with shift only from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (The University Health Center will be passing out glasses outside Brace Hall (just south of the stadium. Come see us!)

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Check out the University’s official solar eclipse website for more information about eclipse events on campus and in the community.

How to Build a First Aid Kit for College

By Kirsten Licht, MS, health promotions analyst

Heading to college is all about learning and preparing for your future. This includes being prepared with a first aid kit!

There are a variety of already assembled first aid kits you can purchase at your local drug store, but you can also easily put one together yourself using a sturdy box with a lid — plastic is preferable.

Your kit should include:

  • Alcohol pads
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandages – a variety of sizes and colors
  • First aid tape
  • Gauze pads
  • Ice pack
  • Oral thermometer
  • Over the counter medication:
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antacids
    • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and fever
    • Anything else you regularly use at home
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Warm pack or heating pad

Once cold and flu season arrives, you should expand your kit with these items:

  • Chapstick
  • Cold medicine
  • Cough medicine
  • Cough drops and sore throat lozenges
  • Soup and tea
  • Tissues
  • Vicks VapoRub

Don’t forget these essentials during the spring and summer:

  • 1% hydrocortisone cream
  • Allergy medication
  • Aloe lotion for sunburns
  • Calamine lotion
  • Sunscreen

It’s a good idea to keep important medical information nearby in case of an emergency, such as:

  • Allergy information
  • Blood type
  • Chronic health information if applicable
  • Contact information for your family doctor
  • Contact information for the University Health Center
    • 1500 U Street, Lincoln, NE 68588-0618
    • 402.472.5000
    • uhc@unl.edu
  • Emergency contact information
  • Medications taken on a regular basics
  • Your insurance card and a copy to keep in your first aid kit

Lastly, be prepared by talking to your relatives about your family medical history before you come to campus. This information is helpful for medical appointments and emergencies.

If you forget or run out of an item in your first aid kit, the University Health Center pharmacy can help. We offer many of these first aid kit essentials, many for less than $5.

SOURCES:

http://www.redcross.org

http://www.webmd.com

https://www.verywell.com/a-first-aid-kit-for-college-3200902

 

Don’t Forget These Essentials When Packing for College This Summer

By Jamie Porter, MA, health promotions analyst

Summer break is almost over, which means you may have already started gathering items you’ll need to bring with you in the fall.

Here at the University Health Center, we’ve got a few important items we suggest you add to (or remove from) your already extensive checklist:

An open mind

In college, you’ll meet people from all over the world and have the opportunity to try and learn things you’ve never experienced before. It can be scary, but bringing an open mind to campus will help you broaden your social circle and take advantage of the programs and activities that may not be available to you at any other time in your life. Whether it’s attending a speech from a nationally known entertainer, joining the rugby team, or learning a new language, if you have an interest, try it out!

A schedule or routine

After mapping out your classes for the first semester, your schedule probably looks pretty open. You might think that this means you get to sleep until noon every day and have time to binge watch your favorite Netflix show between classes. In reality, your schedule will fill up before you know it with studying and extracurricular activities. Before you get to school, sketch out what you think your days might look like, including when you plan to wake up, eat, exercise, study and relax each day. It should be flexible, but this tentative schedule will help get you through that tough first week away from home.

Enthusiasm

Sit in the front. Ask those tough questions in class. Introduce yourself to your instructors. Fully participating in both classes and extracurricular activities will help you build relationships with other students, faculty and staff, which will help when the time comes to find jobs or ask for recommendations.

Don’t forget to bring these with you to campus. Luckily, they won’t add any weight to your move. And now for one thing not to bring…

A “work hard, party hard” mindset

You might think you will attend parties Thursday through Saturday while holding leadership positions in five student organizations and maintaining a 4.0 GPA by staying up until 2 A.M. to study every night. Unfortunately, this is a sure-fire way to burn out and create physical and mental health issues. While there will be hard work and fun involved in college, creating a life with balance — not one of extremes — will help you succeed.

The University Health Center is here to help you succeed in college. To make an appointment with us, call 402.472.5000. Visit our website to learn more about our services: health.unl.edu.

Don’t Fall for These Common Hydration Myths

By Kirsten Licht, MS, health promotions analyst

Our bodies are comprised of about 60 percent water, and this water is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails; removing waste through urine; and controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Although we should make drinking water a priority in our day, it’s important to recognize that there are many commonly believed myths about hydration:

MYTH 1: You need 8 cups of water a day.

It’s important to drink water daily, but each person’s intake needs are different. You may need more than eight glasses or you may need less. Your needs can change from day to day and depend on your size, weight, outside temperature, daily activities and the foods you’ve eaten.

MYTH 2: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

If you feel thirsty, you’re not already dehydrated — you’re just thirsty; drink some water and you will likely feel better. Our thirst is pretty accurate in reporting our hydration needs.

Dehydration becomes a problem when you exceed a five to eight percent body water reduction. Symptoms of dehydration are much more severe than a slightly dry mouth. They include dizziness, fatigue, confusion, or not being able to stay awake; faintness that is not relieved by lying down; an inability to stand or walk; rapid breathing; a weak, rapid pulse; and loss of consciousness.

MYTH 3: Clear urine is how to tell if you are hydrated.

If your urine comes out clear, it just means you are full of fluid and it is coming out. If your urine is more concentrated, it will be more yellow, but it is still healthy. If your pee is the color of apple juice or darker, or very smelly, you need more fluid.

In fact, It’s possible to drink too much water, which dilutes the body’s sodium levels and can cause symptomatic hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition.

MYTH 4: Caffeine dehydrates you.

The diuretic (causing increased passing of urine) effect of caffeine in coffee and soda is mild compared to the amount of fluid they contain. So the take away is that caffeinated fluids can contribute to your daily fluid intake. However, keep in mind that caffeinated drinks can interfere with your sleep, and some drinks may be high in calories and sugar.

Rather than plan your hydration goals around the common myths above, try following these tips to drink more fluid:

  • Make drinking water a part of your daily routine
  • Always have water handy
  • If you need variety, add flavor to your water with sliced cucumbers, kiwi, etc.
  • Set a timer on your phone to remind you to fill up your water bottle
  • Eat foods with higher water content — cucumbers, watermelon, spinach, grapes, etc.
  • Treat yourself to a nice water bottle
  • Find the right temperature — do you like freezing water or is room temperature more for you?

 

Sources:

www.webmd.com

www.runnersworld.com

www.cbc.ca

 

Self-Care Tips for Minor Sports Injuries

by Jenny Meints, licensed physical therapist assistant

Although being active is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, there can be a downside. While the benefits heavily outweigh the negatives, sore muscles, aches, pains and injuries can be a part of it.

No one wants to lose the endurance and strength they’ve worked hard for by taking time off, but the best way to get back in action is to take care of the injury sooner—and hopefully with a quicker recovery—rather than later with a longer recovery.

Indications something may be wrong

Pain: Listen to your body, modify or discontinue the activity. We’ve all heard the saying “No pain, no gain,” and at times this can be applicable. However it’s NOT always true.

Swelling: If the area is warm, red and/or swollen seek medical attention. While swelling with bruising may be a classic characteristic of a sprain or strain, it may also mean something more severe.

Bruising: If a bruise is present, it should start to turn from blueish-purple to more greenish-yellow after about one week, showing signs of reabsorption and healing. Monitor prolonged bruises for signs of poor healing.

Follow the PRICE principle

The PRICE principle is the gold standard for injury self-care and can help an athlete or individual return to their sport or activity more quickly.

Protection: Protect the injured person, body part and surrounding area.

Rest: Rest the involved limb, let the natural healing process occur without movement or pressure impeding it. Crutches or a sling may be useful.

Ice: Apply ice to decrease swelling and pain. Ice can be applied for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every two hours while awake. A layer, such as a towel or pillow case, may be placed between the skin and ice to protect the skin. Ice can be held on by a compression wrap or bandage.

Compression: A compression wrap may be applied to prevent further swelling. Wrap the injured area starting away from the heart, be sure NOT to wrap tighter as you go, with the injured area ending up in the middle of the wrap. Cover half of the wrap each time in a figure 8 pattern.

Elevation: Elevate the injured limb above the heart if possible; pillows can be useful. This is to decrease blood flow to the area to help prevent further swelling.

Return to play

It is important to decrease the risk of re-injury, so modify the sport or activity to “test the waters.” Start out light and easy when returning to a workout routine or sport. This may mean decreasing the weight with lifting, decreasing the intensity with a sport or decreasing the duration or speed of a run. If pain or soreness are not present, increase the activity each time, continue to progress until you are back to full strength.

If self-care is not providing relief or improvement, consult with a doctor or physical therapist so that you can get on the road to recovery and back in action.

The University Health Center is here to help! Call 402.472.5000 to schedule an appointment with our medical clinic or physical therapy team.

Stay Safe This Summer With These Tips

By Kirsten Licht, MS, health promotions analyst

Summer is the perfect time to spend more time outdoors, getting some fresh air, soaking up some Vitamin D and enjoying time with friends and family.

If your summer activities take you outside this season, keep these simple health and safety tips in mind:

Don’t neglect your sunscreen. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15-50 when you are outside for 30 minutes or more. Have trouble remembering to reapply? No sweat! Just set a timer on your phone reminding you to reapply every 90 minutes. If you’re in a wooded area, remember to use insect repellant and wear a hat if possible. Always check for ticks at the end of the day.

Protect your body, inside and out. If you’re biking or driving a motorcycle, wear a helmet. It might not be a fashion statement, but it could save your life. In fact, 83 percent of those killed in bicycle accidents last year had no helmet. Drinking plenty of water when you’re outdoors is just as important. Be sure to drink before you feel thirsty and stick to water if you can.

Be smart when eating outdoors. Don’t eat meat unless it’s cooked through, and be sure cold food stays cold until it’s time to eat. Don’t allow food to sit out more than two hours — when in doubt, throw it out. Avoid cross contamination by washing your hands thoroughly and often.

Take extra steps to drink safely during summer activities. Research shows that up to 70 percent of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults involve the use of alcohol. With that in mind, remember to wear a life jacket at all times on the water, use extra caution around fire pits/grills and fireworks, eat more frequently, drink plenty of water and use a designated sober boat driver when boating.

For more summer safety tips and tricks, check out these helpful websites:

https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2016/05/memorial-day-danger-zone.html

www.healthychildren.org

Self-Care Tips for Bug Bites and Stings

With the warm, summer weather comes a prevalence of biting and stinging insects such as fire ants, bees, wasps, spiders, chiggers and mosquitos.

Although applying insect repellent, covering exposed skin and avoiding perfumes can help prevent a bite or sting, these methods aren’t 100 percent effective. It’s best to be prepared in case a sting or bite occurs.

Depending on the insect, the affected areas can cause pain, itching or both. In most cases, a bite or sting can be treated with self-care. In other cases, emergent care may be needed.

If you’ve had an encounter with a biting or stinging insect, here are our self-care tips:

Stings

You’ll know when you’ve been stung by a bee, wasp or hornet by the sharp pain and burning sensation that follows. A red ring or bump will appear when you’ve been stung.

Check to see if the stinger is still in the wound. If you see the black dot or stick-like substance, remove it by using your fingernail to scrape it in the opposite direction it is faces. Never attempt to squeeze the stinger out. Once the stinger has been removed or if you do not see a stinger, wash the area with soap and water. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling. Take Tylenol or Advil for pain as needed. If the wound becomes itchy, apply calamine lotion several times a day and take an antihistamine.

If you have an allergic reaction, this will generally occur within the first two hours. The reaction can range in severity, from nausea, cramps and diarrhea to more life-threatening symptoms such as trouble breathing, mouth or facial swelling, dizziness and faintness. If you know you are allergic to stings, take an EpiPen immediately after the sting, then take an antihistamine and call 911 (even if you’ve taken an EpiPen).

Bites

Most bug bites are harmless, but certain spider bites, such as the black widow or brown recluse, both of which are common in Nebraska, can cause illness or death. If you know or suspect a spider has bitten you, take a photo of it if you can and bring it with you to the health care facility for identification purposes.

If an insect has bitten you and you are certain it isn’t poisonous, treat the area by:

  • Washing it with soap and water
  • Avoid scratching it
  • Apply anti-itch creams such as calamine
  • Use anti-inflammatory creams like hydrocortisone cream to ease swelling and itching
  • If the itching or burning is severe, take an antihistamine
  • Rub the itchy area with an ice cube

The University Health Center can help you treat bug bites and stings as well as many other summer illnesses and injuries. Walk ins are available during the summer, or to make an appointment, call 402.472.5000.