Healthy Living

How to Avoid Common Summer Health Risks

Jun 28 2022

As you plan your vacations, picnics and other fun activities during the summer months, keeping safety top of mind is important. Summer health risks range from heat illnesses to cuts and bug bites, and even food-borne illness.

To avoid spending a ton of your time indoors recuperating, know how to avoid these summer health issues and focus your time on having fun in the sun.

Drink up

Dehydration is a danger at any time, but during the heat it is even more of a concern. Staying well hydrated each day helps to avoid issues. If you are going to be out in the heat exercising, start to hydrate a day or two before. When you’re outside, sip fluids throughout the day and always make sure to bring lots of water on your adventures.

Shield your skin

Sunburn is the obvious risk from being out in the rays without protection. Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 every day. Use more when you are outside for long periods of time, or when swimming. You can also wear clothes that protect you, like hats, long sleeves and pants, in lightweight materials. Use SPF clothing for even more protection.

And don’t forget your eyes. Hats provide some protection, but use sunglasses with lenses that filter damaging rays. If you do get a bit of extra sun, soothe your skin with aloe-based lotion and avoid the sun until your skin heals.

Bug bites

When hanging out in your yard, you are bound to get a bug bite. Protect your outdoor spaces with bug repellant sprays, candles or bug lights. When outside in the evening, wear long sleeves and apply bug repellant.

Be careful walking barefoot to avoid bee stings. If you are bitten or stung, clean the area with soap and water and watch for signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling or difficulty breathing. For itchiness you can apply calamine lotion or cold compresses.

Heat illness

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both dangerous and common in the hot months. However, they are avoidable. You can stop these heat-related illnesses by staying hydrated, avoiding the sun when it is at its hottest each day and taking breaks to cool off when in the heat. If you work or exercise outdoors, focus on staying hydrated and even add in drinks with electrolytes to offset any salts lost through sweating.

The sun is normally at its strongest in the middle of the day so try to plan to be out early in the morning or later in the evening. Also, be aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses. If you start to feel unwell, find some shade or a place to cool off. If you stop sweating, feel faint or have a fever, you’ll want to get medical attention.

Water safety

Many enjoy swimming and boating, but with the water comes danger. Accidental drownings increase during the summer season. Get ahead of this by following strict safety rules around the water. Always use life jackets when boating. Make sure all children learn to swim and anyone who can’t swim, adults or kids, should wear a lifejacket regardless of the depth of the water.

Avoid swimming where there isn’t a lifeguard or responsible adult to watch over swimmers. Never dive into water unless you are certain of the depth and that it is safe to do so. Also, avoid running around a pool to avoid falling and hitting your head.

Protect your stomach

Eating while traveling, at cookouts or on a picnic can lead to exposure to food poisoning. Try to avoid foods that have been sitting out in the heat. When hosting, be sure to ice down salads and cold foods so that these stay cold.

When enjoying picnic food, if you take a bite and a food that should be cold isn’t, you might want to avoid eating it. If you’re stopping for snacks, choose whole fruit, like an apple, that you can wash, or a banana that you can peel. Prepackaged nuts or dried fruit are great choices. Pretzels and crackers are smart snacks that help you to avoid food-borne illness on the road.

Learn about the primary care services we offer at Mercy Health.

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