Summer is the best time to head outdoors and enjoy nature, the warm weather and, well, just being outside. And while it feels like the most carefree season, there are a few hazards to navigate. Here’s a quick checklist to help you maximize your summer fun while minimizing your risks:
Watch kids around water. We should all practice water safety, from wearing lifejackets to not drinking while boating. But children are especially vulnerable, and drowning can happen in as little as a couple of minutes. Supervise kids in and around water at all times, even when a lifeguard is present. And don’t assume that a lot of adults means someone is watching. Designate one (phone free!) person to keep an eye on kids in the water.
Bug out from ticks. With tick populations at a high in the warm summer months, you should make a habit of checking skin and hair after coming in from outside (ticks like to hide.) Remove ticks immediately and look for a bull’s-eye rash around the bite, which can indicate Lyme disease. If one appears, or if you get a fever, headache, fatigue or muscle aches, see a doctor right away. Many tick-borne illnesses require antibiotics, which need to be started as soon as possible. For more info on avoiding and removing ticks, visit cdc.gov/ticks.
Protect your skin. To safeguard your skin, follow the American Cancer Society’s “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!” recommendations. Slip on a shirt to ensure you stay covered. Slop on sunscreen that’s labeled as 30 SPF or higher with broad-spectrum protection (and reapply at least every two hours). Slap on a hat with a wide brim to protect your face as well as your scalp, ears and neck. And remember to wrap on those sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Use your grilling sense. Whether you like to grill with charcoal or gas, be certain you understand how to operate your grill by reading all the safety instructions. Never add lighter fluid to charcoal that’s already warm, and put coals from your grill in a lidded metal can once they’ve cooled down. And keep kids away from the grill – whether it’s on or off.
Be smart about storms. If you’re caught outdoors in a storm and can’t get inside, lie down and cover your head (somewhere away from tall structures like trees and poles, which can attract lightning). And, of course, seek shelter in your car if possible. Be prepared at home by putting together an emergency kit. A few things to include are: emergency weather radio, flashlights, extra batteries, bottled water, snacks, medications and a portable power pack for your smartphone.
Avoid poison ivy/oak. These days it’s easier than it used to be to identify plants that are hazardous – a quick Google search will do the trick! But an easy way to remember is: Leaves of three, let them be. Hairy vine, no friend of mine! If you are going hiking or exploring, then be sure to wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs. And if you do come into contact with a poisonous plant, wash with soap quickly to lessen the reaction. For a severe reaction, see your doctor.
Fight food poisoning. All those summer picnics and outings can lead to foodborne illness if you’re not careful. Be sure meats on the grill are cooked completely! And keeping perishable foods cold before serving is critical – especially those with mayo, eggs or sour cream. When cleaning up, toss any food that’s been left out even for just a little while.
Cheers to a fun, safe and healthy summer,
Your Healthy Lifestyles Coach
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – cdc.gov
- American Cancer Society – cancer.org
- Foodsafety.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – foodsafety.gov