By Caroline May, MBA, MS Nutrition, NBC-HWC
For those of us living in the Northern hemisphere, summer is in full swing. While many take advantage of the extended daylight to spend more time outdoors soaking up the sun, others prefer to beat the heat by traveling to a cooler destination.
Regardless of how you spend your summer season, it’s important to take precautions that can help keep you and your family healthy. Below are some helpful tips for summer safety.
Protect yourself from harmful heat and damaging sun rays.
According to the World Health Organization, incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers have been increasing globally over the past decades. Cancer Research UK suggests you combat sunburn by covering your skin when outdoors between 10:00 am and 4:00 p.m. or regularly apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater. Don’t forget to also protect your eyes from too much sun exposure.
When it comes to heat stroke or heat exhaustion, look out for yourself, as well as the elderly and very young. According to the National Safety Council, almost 800 children in the U.S. died from heat strokes in cars between 1998 through 2018, with 24 of those occurring in employer parking lots while the parent or caregiver was at work. Be aware of this preventable tragedy and remain cautious of heat.
Drink plenty of water instead of tea, coffee or alcohol. Plan more vigorous activity for cooler temperatures at night and early morning. When temperatures are high, stay in air conditioning if possible.
Be alert near water.
Be mindful of dangers associated with swimming and boating. Adults must closely watch young children near water, even if it’s shallow. You may also decrease risks in the water by knowing how to swim and swimming in a supervised setting or with friends. If you drink alcohol, always drink responsibly, especially when you are near water or supervising others around water.
Prepare for safe travel.
A summer road trip can be a fun getaway, but planning ahead is key. Driving long distances can put you at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, so allow for adequate stops or plan to share time behind the wheel with other drivers. Other potential risk factors while in the car include distracted driving, car trouble, driving in standing water or bad weather and letting your guard down as a tourist in an unfamiliar place.
Don’t let bad food spoil your day.
Summer is the perfect time to eat outdoors with activities like barbecues, hiking, camping, boating and festivals. However, contracting a virus, bacteria or other contaminant is more likely when the temperature is warm, refrigeration is limited and you cannot conveniently wash your hands. Combat these germs by using moist towelettes to wash hands and cleaning surfaces used for cooking and eating.
Make sure to separate raw food from cooked foods and cook meats to their proper internal temperatures. Discard any food that sits out longer than an hour if the temperature is 90°F or higher or two hours when the temperature is under 90°F.
Store food in a refrigerator or cooler, remembering to store coolers in a shady spot when possible. By packing a cooler as full as you can and keeping the lid closed as much as possible you can help keep food colder, longer.
Drink bottled water, rather than drinking from rivers or streams.
Help keep insects away.
Wearing an insect repellent along with lightweight, long sleeves and pants can help protect you from mosquitos, ticks and other insects. Check both yourself and your loved ones, including pets, for ticks after coming indoors. If you’re in the woods, stay on trails and avoid high, grassy and brushy areas in general, and shower soon after coming inside.
You can use screens in windows and doors to help keep bugs at bay indoors or on porches.
Summer is a great time to make lifelong memories with friends and family. Make the most out of it by planning ahead and avoiding unnecessary risks.
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