Summer may be a few weeks out, but many of us are already spending a lot of time outside. Here are five key topics on the minds of Mercy Clinic providers:
- Protecting your skin from the sun is important year-round, but when you’re spending more time outdoors throughout the summer months, it becomes even more important. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, and it can happen even faster for little ones.
- Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors; reapply every 90 minutes or more often if you’re swimming.
- Wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection. Rash guards are also a great swimsuit option for children and adults.
- Avoid being out in the direct sunlight during peak hours: 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Check your skin, and your children’s skin, regularly so you know what’s normal and what may have changed. Visit your Mercy dermatologist annually.
Swimming pools, lakes and oceans - nothing says summer like being in the water. But if you aren’t drinking enough water, especially in the summer months, you could be at risk for dehydration. While we generally recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, the true amount largely depends on your level of activity throughout the day, whether you work out regularly, and if you are pregnant or nursing. In the summer months, the more you sweat, the more you should replenish with water and electrolytes.
- Remember the 8x8 rule (eight 8-ounce glasses) as a baseline goal for water consumption each day.
- Keep a BPA-free water bottle with you throughout the day. An easy trick to hitting your 64-ounce+ goal is to place rubber bands around the bottom of your bottle as a reminder of how many you need to drink. Each time you go to refill your bottle, remove a rubber band.
We aren’t the only ones who look forward to spending most of our time outdoors. Summertime bugs and insects cover the landscape, and we make it pretty easy for them to do so with our backyard barbeques and campground cookouts. And while many of these bugs are harmless, others can be very dangerous, and even deadly. So when you’re out enjoying the great outdoors, consider a few of these tricks to keep these pesky nuisances at bay.
- Sport a neutral wardrobe with smooth fabrics. Pests are likely to attack those who are wearing bright colors, floral patterns and rough fabrics.
- Avoid sweet perfumes, hair spray, soap and after shave. While easier said than done, scents like these, along with sweat, attract bugs. Eating foods with garlic or onions change the taste of your sweat, making you less of a target.
- Wear footwear as often as possible, especially on your little ones. Plenty of bugs can be found in the grass, but did you know that this is also where yellow jackets tend to build their nests? Fire ants build their colonies here and bees are often lured in by small clovers that exist among the blades, making it another avenue for bites and stings.
- Essential oils are a healthy alternative to traditional bug repellents packed with chemicals. Lavender, lemongrass and eucalyptus oils are great natural repellents for mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other insects.
No matter your age of level of experience, wearing protective gear when engaging in activities where your head or other parts of your body are vulnerable to injury should be a no-brainer. This is especially important for children because they have proportionally larger heads with higher centers of gravity and their coordination is not fully developed. Sure, no one enjoys wearing a lot of gear when they’re out having fun, but in the case of the child, it’s important for the parents to lead by example.
- Choose a helmet that fits snug, sits square on top of your head without tilting and remains stable when the chinstrap is secure.
- When choosing a life vest, check the manufacturer’s label to ensure the size and weight requirements are correct. Additionally, hold your arms straight up over your head and ask a friend to pull the arm openings up. If there is no excess room above the openings and the jacket doesn’t come up over your chin or face, it is a perfect fit.
We know that the weather can change at a moment’s notice, so it’s important to always be aware of the forecast and potential hazards nearby. In the late spring and early summer, thunderstorms are a common occurrence and also come with a risk of lightening, hail and even tornadoes.
- If lightening is in the area, avoid surfaces with metal or standing water. In addition, immediately remove yourself from lakes, swimming pools and even beaches. Stay indoors and away from windows.
- Establish an emergency safety plan for you and your family.
- Invest in a battery-operated radio and flashlight to use if the power goes out.
- Do not drive into high water during flash floods. Remember the saying “turn around, don’t drown.”