Summer is synonymous with barbecues, campfires, swimming pools, ball games and outdoor adventures. Embrace summer fun with these helpful safety tips to keep yourself and your family injury-free.
Beat the heat
Working, playing or exercising in extremely hot, humid temperatures increases the risk of dehydration, which can lead to serious heat-related conditions such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Staying hydrated will help you keep cool and prevent heat-related illnesses or injuries. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after outdoor activities. Have a glass of water before you get thirsty, instead of waiting until you feel the need for a drink. Take a break, rehydrate every 20 minutes and rest in a shady area. Pay close attention to the temperature outside as well as the humidity and heat index.
Limit sun exposure
The right amount of sun exposure can improve your mood, boost your immune system and supply you with a healthy dose of vitamin D. However, overexposure to the sun’s rays can cause skin damage in the form of sunburns and even skin cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, five to 15 minutes of sun exposure two to three times a week is all you need to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. If you plan to be out in the sun for longer periods of time, use sunscreen with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection that has a SPF 30 rating. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and UV-absorbent sunglasses can also help protect your face and eyes from sun damage.
Keep campfires contained
Completely extinguish campfires and leave no flame un-attended. Place the campfire or grill in a safe location, and keep flammable items away from the fire.
Avoid creepy crawlies
Wearing long sleeves and long pants and using bug spray will help keep unwanted critters at bay. Insect repellant is safe to use for children two years of age and older. Get rid of wet areas and pools of water around your home where mosquitos like to lurk – these can include old tires, buckets or low areas in the yard. When bees, wasps, ticks, spiders or other bugs bite, minimize the number of bites by going inside immediately. Check the bite site for increased redness, swelling or signs of infection. If any of these symptoms appear, seek medical care right away.
Wearing appropriate protective gear will prevent injuries during sports or other summer activities. When biking, roller-skating or skateboarding; use knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet. Life jackets and flotation devices are essential for boating, fishing or a day at the pool. Ensure your protective gear is in good working condition and has the proper fit.
About the Author: Thomas Hopkins, MD, is a board-certified family physician at Freeman Urgent Care and has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years. He and his wife live in Missouri and have two grandchildren. He co-authored the historical novel, “The Princes Of Albion,” with his identical twin brother. He plays the banjo, photographs bears in the wild and likes to dress up in period attire to shoot his six-shooter in cowboy action competitions.