Tips for Enjoying Your Summer Outdoors
What does the image of being outdoors conjure to you? Are you planning to head to the beach, the hiking trails, or perhaps your neighborhood park with your loved ones? Physical activity and social bonding are limitless when we have a chance to decompress in the warmer months. To enjoy each day to the fullest, keep these tips in mind for a safe summer!
- Sunscreen 101: It’s okay if you get 15 minutes in the sun without protection. This allows your skin to absorb natural Vitamin D. Prolonged exposure to the sun, however, has consequences to the layers of your skin. Be sure to apply SPF 15 or greater at least every two hours. If you will be splashing in a pool or at the beach, reapply after you exit your swim.
- Hydrate: Just because you don’t feel thirsty doesn’t necessarily mean your body is properly hydrated. In addition to water and drinks, don’t forget to incorporate veggies like celery and cucumber into your diet. Fruits like melons are also great ways to rehydrate—they are more than 90 percent water. Our furry friends who accompany us on summer trips also need regular hydration. Inexpensive collapsible water bowls are available at most big box stores and at any pet shop.
- Cover up: Remember a wide-brimmed hat is your friend for maximum protection from the sun. Baseball caps also give our eyes some reprieve from harmful rays. When hiking for an hour or more, you might consider a hat with moisture-wicking properties.
- Repel insects: Tick-borne diseases and mosquito-associated illnesses are both serious public health threats. Make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones with insect repellant. Some sunscreens have repellants in them, but studies are inconclusive about the effectiveness of combined products. Since sunscreen needs to be reapplied more often, the risk with combined products is that you may neglect regular sun protection refreshers throughout the day. Also, make sure your pets are on active flea and tick treatment.
- Life jackets: If you are going out on a boat, whether a kayak or a motor boat, life jackets are a must-have for anyone (our dogs need them too). The U.S. Coast-Guard has recommendations for approved life jackets <link http://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/life-jacket-wear-wearing-your-life-jacket.php> if you plan on boating this summer.
What if you happen to find a tick on your skin or an animal’s fur? Here are some helpful tips:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you pack small, fine-tipped forceps or a pair of tweezers before you head out, so that if you find a tick, you can quickly remove it.
- Try to remove the tick in a controlled manner so that the it does not break into pieces, making it possible for it to still infect you.
- Clean your skin with isopropyl alcohol or soap and discard the tick immediately.
- If you live in a part of the country that has known clusters of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, you may want to save the tick by placing it in a sealed bag or container for further testing by your local health department.
Here are some helpful resources to ensure you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors in comfort and safety:
- USDA Forest Service: https://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/safety/safety.shtml
- National Safety Council: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/outdoors
- Skin Cancer Foundation: https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/would-it-be-better-to-use-a-product-that-combines-insect-repellent-and-sunscreen-or-two-different-products
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/index.html.