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July 2002

Complaint Department

Summer Emergencies—Being prepared to discuss whatever ails you

“Summer,” wrote Garrison Keillor in Lake Wobegone Days, “was an experiment that didn’t work. It looked good in May as things warmed up …. but by August summer was dragging on the ground,” and he was right. After months of lusting for sunshine and warmth, a hot afternoon sends me scuttling into the shade, where I lie, fanning myself with a copy of Munich Found, griping about the heat, the insects, the allergies and perusing my English/German dictionary for such useful expressions as dehydration (Dehydratation/ Austrocknen) or heatstroke (Hitzschlag). A Bavarian summer may not seem much of a hazard to those of you who hail from hotter climates, but if you spend a day lying on the glaring white pebble banks of the Isar or walking at unaccustomed heights in the Alps, you may find yourself suffering from headaches (Kopfschmerzen), nausea (Übelkeit) and dizziness (Schwindel)—typical symptoms of sunstroke (Sonnenstich). In this case head straight for the shade and drink plenty of water—two to three liters on a hot day for the average adult. If the symptoms persist call the emergency room (Notaufnahme) of the nearest hospital. For those of you planning to take trips into the Bavarian countryside this summer, keep an eye out for ticks (Zecken). These little black insects like to attach themselves to human skin and can pass on two serious illnesses: Lyme disease (Borreliose) and spring-summer encephalitis (Früh-Sommer-Meningo-Enzephalitis/FSME). The ticks should be removed as soon as possible by using a pair of pincers (Pinzette). Twist, making sure that the head has come out too. Keep watching the tick bite for swelling (Schwellung) or redness (Röte) over the next week or so. A red raised ring around the bite may indicate Lyme disease while sudden fever (Fieber), headache, vomiting and sensitivity to light (Lichtempfindlichkeit) are pos- sible indicators of encephalitis. Munich’s ticks are FSME-free, but if you are traveling farther afield, you may want to check out the Web site, which provides a map of tick-infested areas around Germany. Other, less dangerous insect bites (Insektenstiche), from wasps (Wespen), bees (Bienen) and bumblebees (Hummeln), can be treated with cold, wet compresses (Umschläge) unless the sting causes a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylactic shock (Allergischer Schock), in which case call the emergency services (Notdienst) at 112. This is also a useful phone number for summer sports enthusiasts: lacerations (Platzwunden), cuts (Schnittwunden), fractures (Knochenbruch), concussion (Gehirnerschütterung) are common injuries among mountain bikers, skateboarders and roller-bladers. Of course, you don’t have to leave home to enjoy the hazards of hot weather. Homemade mayonnaise or tiramisu left too long in a warm place can ensure a hefty dose of food poisoning/ salmonella (Salmonellen). Usual symptoms are nausea, diarrhea (Durchfall) and fever. As with heatstroke, the intake of fluids is important, so drink as much as you can. On the subject of poisoning (Vergiftung), a useful phone number in Munich is the toxic help-line (Giftnotruf) at (089) 19 24 0.

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