Avoiding Summer Health Hazards
Fun in the sun comes with its risks, but fortunately they’re relatively easy to avoid if you follow some simple steps. Whether you’re in extreme heat, or cooling down in water, or having a nice summer meal, just be aware of the potential dangers and make sure you’re prepared to deal with them.
Staying Safe in the Heat
Summer heat, wherever you are, comes with numerous risks that aren’t even directly related to how much you might burn in the sun. Excess heat can put you at risk of heat exhaustion or – worse – heatstroke (which requires medical attention). The smart way to stay safe in the heat is to reserve your activities for the morning or the evening, when the heat is at its lowest. Don’t wear tight clothes that hold in the heat.
Staying Safe in the Sun
You know the rule – put on sunscreen before you go into the sun. Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer, and can be incredibly painful. Avoiding direct exposure is always best – you should especially never take naps in the sun. Use proper sunscreen – even on cloudy days – to avoid getting burned during your summer excursions.
Staying Safe in Water
Water can cool you down and be a lot of fun, but depending on where and when you swim, you can be at risk of drowning. Even pools carry their own risks, so make sure wherever you swim that a lifeguard is always present. Pay attention to the water and weather conditions to avoid tides or other things that might pull you out into the ocean. Keep children supervised in the water, and always avoid drinking before swimming.
Too little water is always a concern, but especially on days where it's hot out, you need to be aware of how much the sun can dry you out. Dehydration, it should be noted, isn’t always just “feeling a little thirsty.” Dehydration is dangerous, and can come with fatigue, dizziness, or confusion. If your urine is too dark it might also indicate dehydration. Always keep a bottle of water handy for each person, and make sure your snacks are also water-heavy, like strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Warm weather can really mess up a picnic, especially if you leave perishable food out in the hot sun. To avoid food poisoning, keep your perishables packed in ice, rather than just leaving them out. When grilling your food, it’s also good to use a meat thermometer to make sure meat has been cooked to a proper internal temperature. Most affected by heat are dairy products and meat, which can quickly develop bacteria which will make them no longer safe to eat, at risk of food poisoning.
The key to having a safe summer is simple preparation and taking everything in moderation. Summer can often be about excess, so scaling back or being extra-prepared are your two best options for enjoying yourself and not finding yourself needing medical attention.