School is out, pools are open and festivals are in full swing. While you’re packing for vacations and staycations, be sure to add summer safety to your checklist. But even with stocked first aid kits and sunscreen that has highest SPF you can find, injuries and illnesses happen. Parkridge Health is sharing the following guidelines to know when to go the ER or urgent care.

Heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke and heat exhaustion, can happen when we don’t keep ourselves cool and hydrated. Urgent care clinics treat dehydration and most heat illness symptoms, like muscle cramps and dizziness. However, heatstroke symptoms (confusion, loss of consciousness or a temperature over 100) should be escalated to the nearest emergency room. Remember to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks from the heat and sun.

Sunburns, poison ivy and bug bites are common summer ailments, but depending on the severity, they can be dangerous to our health. If you are having an extreme allergic reaction or experiencing changes in cognitive function due to a bee sting, bug bite or skin rash, head straight to the ER. An urgent care clinic treats less severe symptoms, such as swelling, rashes and aching joints. Sunscreen, protective clothing and insect repellent can help prevent sunburns and bug bites.

Nice weather also means bike and scooter rides through parks and increased commuting on wheels. Urgent cares are a great resource for many injuries pertaining to bikes and scooters. If a cut or wound needs stitches or if there is a simple (non-protruding) bone break, urgent care is the place to go. Head straight to an emergency room if someone is experiencing any major breaks or eye injuries. The ER is also necessary for major head-related injuries from a fall. Mental status changes, loss of consciousness and difficulty with balance are all signs of an emergency medical situation. Remember to always wear a helmet!

The ERs at Parkridge Health are staffed 24/7 with board-certified emergency physicians who can treat a broad range of injuries and illnesses. For a full list of ER and urgent care locations across the Chattanooga area go to

tags: er , heat , illness , injury , sun