Summer is almost here, and it’s about time. In certain parts of the country, it seemed like the cold and snow would never end! Longer days, warmth, and sunshine are a welcome sight. But before you run out the door for a day of fun in the sun, here are a few tips for a safe and regret-free experience:
1. Stay hydrated. Most of us keep the fluids flowing on a hot, sunny day, but sometimes we forget how important it is that we make water the star of the show. When we’re active in hot weather, we lose moisture a lot more quickly than at other times of the year. In addition, beverages containing caffeine can further deplete our bodies of moisture, putting us at risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or worse.
Make it a habit to bring water bottles along whenever you head outside and remind kids to drink even if they don’t feel thirsty. You can also work foods with high water content, like watermelon, tomatoes, and lettuce, into your diet.
2. Practice sun safety. Sunburn is annoying, but the reality is, it can lead to more serious conditions like skin damage and skin cancer. Invest in a hat that covers your face and neck and find a broad-spectrum sunscreen that you feel good about using on yourself and your family. Don’t forget to take it with you when you head out!
Take breaks and re-apply sunscreen at least every two hours when swimming or sweating. If you’d rather not use sunscreen, look into lightweight UPF clothing and swimsuits that can also protect you from a painful sunburn.
3. Stop bugs before they bite. Mosquito bites rank right next to sunburn on the list of “summer day nuisances.” It used to be that mosquito bites were merely an irritation, but now they carry viruses like West Nile, which can lead to serious diseases. Find a bug repellent you feel comfortable using on yourself and your family, and make sure it’s in your bag when you leave to go outside.
At home, try to drain any standing water in your yard (persistent puddles, bird baths, etc.) since that’s where mosquitos lay their eggs.
4. Stay active but be smart. Most people spend more time in physical activity when the weather is nice, which is never a bad thing. But it’s easy to lose track of time, stay outside longer than you should, and over-exert yourself if you’re not careful. Take breaks, especially when the sun is high in the sky. Find shady areas to cool off and rest.
If you’re out of town, plan your sightseeing and other outdoor activities so you can easily stop back by your accommodations for a break. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, eat immune-boosting foods, and leave time for rest while traveling. Air travel especially can dehydrate and expose you to germs you might not otherwise encounter.
5. Respect the water. Now is the time for days at the splash pad, the pool, the beach, or floating down a river. It’s also a good time to invest in swim lessons for your kids if they haven’t already learned. Make sure younger kids have (and wear) proper swim gear and make sure they are always supervised when in the water.
If you have a pool on your property, make sure the area is fenced and ensure that small children cannot fall in. Teach your kids to have a healthy respect for water and talk them through what to do if they find themselves in trouble. Many local community centers offer water safety classes that can save lives!
There are plenty of other ways to maximize your health during the summer months, like adding more fresh, locally-grown foods to your plate. Explore your local farmer’s markets, grow your own vegetables, and try some new recipes. You might discover a new love for fresh things by going out of your comfort zone!
Summer is almost here, but it will be over before most of us are ready to move on. So plan ahead and take what you need with you, and then sit back and relax. Watch your kids splash in the pool. Catch fireflies. Sing around the campfire. Enjoy these couple of months when things slow down just a little. We wish you a refreshing, fun, safe summer.