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Local doctor provides health tips on protesting safely

Being out in direct sunlight while protesting can put a person at risk of heat stroke

San Antonio – As protests for racial justice continue across the Alamo City, one local doctor who also participated in a protest is encouraging people to be mindful about their own personal wellbeing.

Dr. Fred Campbell, with UT Health San Antonio, spent Sunday afternoon participating in the “White Coats for Black Lives” protest at the Health Science Center.

“I sympathize with the protesters,” Dr. Campbell said. “It takes a tremendous amount of courage to go out, to begin with, and then to expose oneself to a potentially fatal virus. I greatly sympathize with them.”

He said from a medical standpoint, he is concerned when it comes down to the coronavirus.

“I am concerned about transmission of Covid-19,” Dr. Campbell said. “In a large group where people are not going to be greater than six feet from each other quite often, the likelihood of having a spike in Covid-19 cases in that crowd is high.”

Dr. Campbell recommends protesters keep their distance when participating in a protest. He said to always wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth, even while conversing with people, and to assume you are infected.

“You will need to take the measures needed to protect others,” Dr. Campbell said. “You could get a high-risk person like your elderly parents or grandparents or someone else infected and they could readily die from that kind of infection, even if you are young and healthy.”

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He added that it is also important to be mindful of protesting in high temperatures.

“It will take probably no more than 30 minutes to an hour for someone to have a significant elevation in their temperature and the potential for a heatstroke which can be a fatal condition associated with being out in the direct heat for a long period of time,” Dr. Campbell said.

Some symptoms of a heat stroke include:

  • Loss of sweating
  • Light Headedness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased thirst

He said if you would like to protest, try to do so in the morning, evening, or where there is a lot of shade.

“Stay out of the direct sun,” Dr. Campbell said. “Use umbrellas, which can be very good for personal shade. Wear big hats and light-colored clothing. Drink lots of water. At least half a gallon of water and minimize the amount of time you spend in the sun.”

Dr. Campbell also said to not overexert yourself.

“Even though you might get excited and want to participate in a way that is very vigorous because of your enthusiasm, the one thing you don’t want to do is to hurt yourself, harm yourself or harm other people,” Dr. Campbell said.

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