Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and swim, hike, play sports and barbecue. But, with any activity comes the chance that an accident or injury will happen. Use your summer health sense and follow these easy tips to stay safe and healthy no matter how you spend your summer:
- As you enjoy the sun this summer, keep in mind that you must protect your skin
- Enjoy the flavors of summer . . . without the food poisoning
- Be mindful of water safety
- Getting active in summer offers variety
- Be aware of heatstroke symptoms and act fast
- Commit to a farmers’ market ritual
- Protect yourself from insects
- Limit your kid’s summer screen time
- Don’t forget to hydrate
- Enjoy a stay-cation
As you enjoy the sun this summer, keep in mind that you must protect your skin
As the temperature heats up, people tend to bare more skin to the summer sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays have a negative effect on skin and can cause unpleasant, and even dangerous, results. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime.
There is one thing that every person must do to protect their skin – use sunscreen every single day. The sun’s rays can penetrate clouds, mist and fog. Sun damage occurs in all seasons and there is significant exposure to UVA rays through car windows too. Sunscreen advice includes:
- Choose sunscreen that is water-resistant, SPF 30 or higher and offers broad-spectrum protection.
- Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside.
- Spread at least 1 ounce – enough to fill a shot glass – on your face and entire body.
- If you swim, sweat, or are outdoors for a long time, reapply every two hours.
- Lips are a common site for skin cancer – use a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher and apply every two hours.
Enjoy the flavors of summer . . . without the food poisoning
With summer picnics, cookouts, festivals and camping, there are so many places to enjoy all the food and flavors summer has to offer. But when temperatures soar, so does the chance of bacteria and food poisoning. Follow this simple advice to keep your food safe:
- At many events, food is left out for people to “graze” on throughout the day. Food should not be out in the heat for more than an hour. Wrap up leftovers and refrigerate as soon as possible.
- Don’t marinate meats on the counter and never reuse the marinade as a sauce to brush on cooked meat.
- If raw meat as been on a tray or plate, do not reuse it to carry the cooked meat to the table. The same goes for utensils.
- Be sure to wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer if water is not available) after handling raw food.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables well before eating, especially those that will not be cooked before eating.
Be mindful of water safety
Summer is the season to swim, making it the best time of year to address water safety for your family. As people look to cool off, you’ll most likely find you and your family headed to the beach or pool. Here are a few simple safety tips to remember before you make a splash:
- Make sure everyone in your family knows how to swim and what to do in an emergency.
- Supervise young children whenever around water by staying within an arm’s reach.
- Don’t swim solo; make sure there’s a lifeguard on duty or be sure to swim with a friend. Unsupervised swim is dangerous.
- Be prepared. Learn how to administer CPR and have a First Aid Kit handy.
- Own a pool? Make sure that it’s off-limits when not in use. Fences, safety covers and pool alarms are safety measure worth looking into.
- If participating in ocean fun like boating, be sure to wear a safety vest.
Getting active in summer offers variety
Now that the warm weather is here, you may be looking for ways to maintain your active lifestyle. The good news? There are many outdoor activities to keep you moving while adding variety to your daily exercise routine. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you plan your summer fitness routine:
- Be mindful of temperatures. Once it heats up, it may be worth taking your activity indoors. Visit your local recreational center or shopping mall as a cool alternative to get steps in.
- Taking your routine outdoors? Be sure to apply sunscreen and hydrate throughout your activity.
- Take in the sights – walk along the ocean, along a walking a trail, or through your local park. Taking in nature while getting in your workout is a great seasonal benefit.
- Stay cool in the pool! If you have access to a pool, water aerobics is a great way to stay cool and mix-up your workout.
Be aware of heatstroke symptoms and act fast
Heatstroke can occur when being in a hot environment leads to a rise in body temperature or it can be brought on by intense physical activity in hot weather. With both types of heatstroke, the condition can be made worse by wearing excessive clothing, drinking alcohol which affects the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, and becoming dehydrated. Be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke:
- Body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness, light-headedness
- Lack of sweating despite the heat
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Behavioral changes such as confusion, agitation, slurred speech, disorientation, or staggering
If you think someone is experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help by calling 911. While waiting for help, get the person indoors or in the shade, remove excess clothing, and cool the person down by putting him in a cool tub or shower, spraying with a garden hose, sponging with cool water or putting cool, wet towels or ice packs on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.
Commit to a farmers’ market ritual
Eating healthy and local is never easier than during the summer months. Find a convenient farmers’ market near your home or work and commit to visiting it each week. Stock up on freshly picked, in-season fruits and vegetable that are at their peak in flavor and nutrition. It’s possible that the fruits and vegetables you buy were picked just a few days or hours before.
Did you know that food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate? One of the benefits of shopping at a local farmers’ market is that the amount of natural resources (especially fossil fuels) is reduced, lowering pollution and the extra packaging needed for shipping.
Visiting your local farmers’ markets supports local farmers and is a great way to get your kids involved in healthy meal planning. Few grocery stores will give you tips on how to cook with the ingredients you buy, but the farmers and artisans at the market are often passionate about cooking and can offer you plenty of advice on meal ideas for what they are selling.
Plus, visiting a farmers’ market allows you and your family to stroll around the outdoor stalls rather than pushing a cart through a grocery store. This makes getting healthy fresh produce a pleasurable event rather than a chore.
Protect yourself from insects
Summer is all about being outside; but, as we’ve learned about the risk of insects and the diseases they can present, now more than ever, you need to take steps to protect yourself and your family when outdoors:
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and closed shoes. This will help keep bugs from making contact with skin.
- Talk to your doctor about a bug repellent that is safe for the whole family. Once you find a product that is right for you, be sure to use it properly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov) has a helpful search tool to assist you in finding the right repellent.
- When walking in wooded areas or those with high vegetation, stick to the trail. Do a full-body tick check of people and pets when you return, and be sure to check your outdoor gear too.
- Stay clear of scented skin products as these can attract bugs.
- Contact your local town officials to see how they can help your neighborhood. Many communities spray throughout the summer season.
Limit your kid’s summer screen time
With school out, your children probably have more downtime. This means there’s more opportunity for them to turn to screen time for fun. Though there are some great learning programs and other educational ways to use electronics, it’s a great idea to limit screen time and offer other ways to engage with kids during the summer months.
- Weekly library visits are a great way to spend time as a family. Let your child choose their book and ask them questions about what they’re reading.
- Outdoor scavenger hunts are an easy to way to pass the time. Search the internet for pre-made lists of objects that are easily found in nature.
- Gardening is a great activity that everyone can help with. Not only do children love to use their hands, but you’ll end up with beautiful blooms to enjoy throughout the season.
- Community adventures! Check local organizations for summer programs. Many programs are free or low cost, and are open to the public. Children will get a chance to explore their local communities while having fun outside the home.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Hydration is key to everyone’s health. When it comes to the long hot days of summer, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to hydrate throughout the day. There are a few things to consider when it comes to how much and how often we drink. Here are suggestions to help keep your family healthy and hydrated:
- Keep a water bottle with you at all times — especially when you leave the home and when temperatures rise. Having a bottle in reach means you’re most likely to drink when your body needs it.
- Make sure you’re getting enough. Talk to you physician to make sure you and your family are drinking enough water throughout the day. Each person needs a certain amount based on their body weight and daily activity.
- Stay away from surgery drinks and alcohol during high-temps. Your best bet in staying hydrated is to keep it simple and stick with water. If you’re looking to adding flavor, try infusing fruit or adding flavored ice cubes made with no-sugar-added juice. Drinking a cup of unsweetened iced or hot tea can add variety.
- Balance hydration with a proper diet. Eating water dense fruits and vegetables adds to your overall health, and are readily available during the months.
Enjoy a stay-cation
When it comes to vacation, many families opt for a stay-cation for their summer fun. Stay-cations come with many benefits; they are often more affordable, don’t require a lot of planning, you don’t have the hassles of long-distance travel, and you still great a break from work. If you’re planning a stay-cation, here are a few tips to consider:
- Hitting the road? Be sure to pack a first-aid kit, phone chargers, water and snack, a flash light and road map/app.
- Picnic please? Oftentimes, a short drive ending with picnic in a local park or on the beach can offer you and your family the respite you need. Let each family member prepare their own day-trip kit to make it even more memorable.
- Be a local tourist! With a little research you can discover discounts for local museums (check your local library!) and attractions giving you and your family a chance to explore your community in a whole new way.
- Camping season! Pitch a tent in your own backyard or learn about camp grounds in your area. A simple night under the stars can bring big adventure for the whole family. See out tips on hydration and insect safety before you head out!