Keep Summer Fun
This story originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Oxford Health & Life Magazine.
A little preparation will make this your safest summer yet. Most of us can't wait for summer’s carefree days— but carefree shouldn’t mean careless. Without taking some precautions while you’re outside, summer can end up being a real pain. Follow these tips to ensure that avoidable health problems don’t take the fun out of your summer.
Almost all sunburns can be prevented. Adults and teens should apply sunblock with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. For toddlers and younger children, a sunblock with an SPF of 45 is best. Children have thinner skin than adults and can get a serious burn more quickly. Regardless of age, it’s important to lotion up at least every two hours and right after swimming. Keep infants under 6 months out of direct sunlight and dress them in light-colored, lightweight pants and shirts with long sleeves, using a brimmed hat to protect baby’s head.
Some of the most common summer illnesses are heatrelated. They include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can cause multi-organ damage if left untreated. Use caution exercising on hot, humid days. Dress in light, loose clothing and drink lots of water (don’t wait until you’re thirsty). Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. If children seem lethargic after prolonged heat exposure, give them plenty to drink, take them into an air-conditioned area and have them rest or lie down.
Who doesn’t love to indulge in a refreshing dip on a hot summer day? But having fun doesn’t mean letting down your guard. Watch children around any water environment, whether it’s the ocean, a lake, a pool or even a wading pool or tub. An adult should be within arm’s length at all times. If you have a pool keep rescue equipment, such as a shepherd’s hook (a long pole with a hook on the end), a life preserver and a portable phone, nearby. And when you’re planning a pool party that will keep you busy, consider calling your local YMCA or pool club to hire a certified lifeguard.
Beat the Bugs
Usually, mosquito bites are a minor inconvenience, leaving behind an itchy bump that’s bothersome for a day or two then disappears. But it’s important to limit bites because mosquitoes can carry diseases. In Florida, those include West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis. Play it safe by covering your skin with clothing and using mosquito repellent. Around your home, use door and window screens to keep bugs out and drain any standing water to stop mosquitoes from reproducing. Ticks can also carry disease, including Lyme disease. If you’re going to be in a wooded or grassy area, wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, hats and closed-toe shoes. When you get back inside, check your skin thoroughly for ticks.