Summer is quickly approaching which means more time in the sun with family and friends. Spending time outdoors is great for your health. The sun allows you to build up your Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), the fresh air helps relieve stress, and who doesn’t look better with a bit of a tan?
Too much a good thing can be hazardous. It’s important to keep in mind some simple summer precautions that will ensure a happy and healthy season.
Tip #1: Make sure to wear sunscreen.
Spray-ons are great for kids and teens compared to lotion/oily sunscreens. Always check the SPF (sun protection factor) when choosing sunscreen. According to the American Dermatology Association, always choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection, SPF of 30 or higher, and water resistant. They also recommend re-applying every 2 hours when outdoors, seek shade whenever your shadow is shorter than you are, wear lightweight clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
Tip #2: Protect yourself from bugs.
Everyone hates mosquito bites and it doesn’t help that mosquitoes can carry diseases such as Lyme and Zika. To protect yourself and your loved ones from getting eaten up this summer, be sure to wear bug repellent that contains DEET. Other tips include staying away from standing water, avoid being outside at dusk/dawn, and wear light colored clothing (bright and floral patterns attract wasps and bees) that covers arms and legs.
Tip #3: Practice proper water safety.
According to the USA Swimming Foundation, at least 148 children under the age of 15 drowned between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2018. 163 children under 15 drowned in swimming pools or spas. Texas tied (with Florida) having the most number of drownings in pools or spas last year – 21. A few things to remember when spending time around water:
1. NEVER leave a child unattended near or in the water
2. Teach children to swim and learn to swim yourself if you don’t know how
3. Do not drink alcohol before or while using water crafts or swimming
4. Know CPR for children and adults. You never know when you may be able to save a life.
Tip #4: Avoid a heat-related illness.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying indoors in air-conditioning and limit outdoor exposure during very hot days. If you find yourself getting overheated, the CDC offers these steps to help cool you down.
1. Drink more liquid (non-alcoholic) than you think you need.
2. Wear loose, lightweight clothing and a hat
3. Replace salt from sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks
4. Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, 11am – 3pm
5. Wear sunscreen; sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself
6. Pace yourself when you run or otherwise exert your body.
If you feel you may be getting overheated or think someone else is, call 911 immediately, and try to move indoors where it is cooler. Cool wet towels placed around the neck will help allow the body to begin cooling down, but always listen to the 911 operator on what to do while waiting for paramedics. Heatstroke can be fatal if not addressed right away.
Summer is a great time of year to enjoy longer days spent outside surrounded by nature and those you enjoy most. Please take the necessary precautions to ensure that this year will be the best one yet.