Summer is one of the most exciting times of year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. There are health risks hidden everywhere, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from having fun.
Just use some common sense and be extra careful when you’re participating in some of the following activities.
Spending time in the sun
You probably guessed it, spending too much time in the sun is one of the biggest dangers of summer. Every time you get a sunburn, your risk for skin cancer later in life increases.
So, before you head outside, take some time to protect your skin. Do this by:
- Avoiding the sun during the hottest times of day: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 anytime you’re outside — even on cloudy days
- Finding out if your medications make you more sensitive to the sun
- Reapplying sunscreen every two hours or more often if you get wet or sweat
- Staying in the shade as much as possible
- Wearing protective items like sunglasses and hats, as well as long sleeves and pants
Getting too hot
Even if you’re not in the sun or if you’re indoors, the summer heat can have a negative effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you’re active. Dehydration is among the most common summer health issues and can lead to serious consequences.
You should also be aware of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans end up in the emergency room because of the heat. Drinking water, staying indoors during the hottest parts of the day and avoiding too much activity can help.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be at risk for heatstroke or heat exhaustion:
- Cool skin
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling faint
- Low blood pressure, especially when you go from sitting to standing
- Muscle cramps
- Rapid pulse
When you experience these symptoms, find a cooler spot. Go indoors or in the shade. Sit down and rest. Drink some cool water. If you don’t get better within an hour or your symptoms get worse, call your health care provider or head to your local emergency room.
Sharing the outdoors with bugs
Another concern to keep in mind this summer is bugs. They’re everywhere. Not only are they annoying, but they can spread diseases like West Nile or Lyme disease.
You can easily prevent this by wearing a good bug repellent. And if you know you’re going to be in an area with lots of mosquitoes, wear long sleeves and pants.
It’s also important to know if you’re allergic to any bug that bites or stings. If you develop hives, trouble breathing, dizziness or swelling of the tongue or face, see a doctor immediately.
Mowing the lawn
Summer is the time for keeping up your yard, which means plenty of time spent mowing the lawn. But you need to be careful. Emergency rooms across the country see lawnmower injuries every summer. These range from people losing fingers and toes in the blade to hitting a rock and flinging it up into their eyes.
Wearing protective gear can help. That includes closed toe shoes and long pants. Sunglasses or goggles can protect your eyes. Gloves can also help.
Visiting the beach
Nothing beats a day at the beach. But only if you are cautious. Avoid beach-related health risks by:
- Avoiding the hottest parts of the day
- Bringing water to stay hydrated
- Going inside if you see lightning or hear thunder
- Learning about rip currents and how to avoid them
- Leaving local wildlife alone
- Never swim alone
- Swimming in areas with lifeguards
- Wearing a flotation device when you’re boating
Having a picnic or barbecue
Picnics and barbecues are some of our favorite summer activities. While they’re generally safe, there are a few things you can do to make them even safer.
Of course, you’ll always want to follow instructions when using your grill. You’ll also want to be careful to avoid food poisoning. It’s more common during the summer months. Make sure you wash your hands before and after preparing food. Also, keep food cold with a refrigerator or cooler.
Taking a road trip
Car accidents are also more likely during the summer. So, if you’re taking a road trip, be careful. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. And don’t drive when you’re tired. Follow all rules of the road and stay alert. This can help you stay safe when you’re heading out of town.
Check out our blog’s healthy living section for more healthy tips.
Also, learn about all the health care services we provide at Mercy Health.