Summer has arrived and we're finally able to venture out of the house (responsibly, of course) to relax outdoors. But, as fun as summer can be, the season does carry some health risks.
Dr. Janae Hunter, family medicine physician at Summit Health says, "As the weather gets warmer, we tend to see patients seeking care at increased rates for sunburn, dehydration, and insect stings. During the summer months, there's also a higher incidence of serious accidents like drowning or injuries from fireworks."
Here's a checklist for staying healthy, safe, and protected all summer long.
To stay safe in the sun:
- Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or each time you get out of the water or sweat heavily.
- Throw away sunscreen you've had for over three years.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing along with a hat and sunglasses.
- Limit time in the sun between peak hours, which are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Seek immediate medical assistance for signs of heat-related illness, such as ashen skin, vomiting, and rapid heart rate.
- Drink at least 11-15 cups of fluids (preferably water) per day to help you stay fully hydrated.
To avoid insect bites and ticks:
- Use unscented soap and avoid perfumes or hair spray.
- Keep grass short and remove stagnant water from around your home.
- Cover food so it doesn't attract bugs.
- Spray EPA-registered insect repellant with DEET on your skin.
- Avoid bright-colored clothing and, when possible, wear long sleeves and socks.
- Shower after being outdoors and do a thorough tick check.
To enjoy a day at the beach or pool:
- Always swim with a buddy and stay within your capabilities.
- Limit alcoholic drinks that could impair your judgment or swimming abilities.
- Have a telephone close by and make sure a lifeguard or someone who knows CPR is on hand.
- Supervise young children at all times.
- Bring a small first aid kit with tweezers, waterproof bandages, and pain reliever.
- Pack an insulated cooler with plenty of water and healthy snacks.
- Wash or sanitize your hands frequently to avoid viruses.
- Maintain physical distancing and wear a mask except when in the water (in accordance with CDC guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak).
To safely make the most of the Fourth of July:
- Leave the fireworks up to the experts.
- Never re-light fireworks.
- If sparklers are permitted, hold and point them away from yourself and others.
- Grill in an open area away from wood decks, branches, or other brush.
- Remove grease build-up on your grill before lighting it.
- Designate a three-foot "safe zone" around the grill that kids and pets can't enter.
- Wear well-fitted clothing when grilling or near an open bonfire.
"The more care and attention you pay to your summer activities, the more likely you are to enjoy yourself without pain or injury," says Dr. Hunter.