Beautiful weather is a treat, and summer is a great time to get outside. But summer heat also brings unique health challenges. Heat can be dangerous for anyone, but older adults and those with chronic conditions are at higher risk for heat related illness. With a few easy steps, you can stay safe and comfortable during the summer months.
The sun’s rays damage your skin, resulting in sunburn. Over time, this damage could lead to cancer. Broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 protects your skin from this radiation.
Consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat and clothing that covers your entire body. Taking breaks in the shade also helps limit your exposure.
When it is very hot, limit your time outdoors and avoid strenuous activities. Too much exertion can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be serious.
If you start to feel dizzy, faint, or nauseous, move to a cooler place. Find an air-conditioned space, or take a cool shower or bath, to lower your temperature. If that is not possible at home, call your local public health department to ask about heat relief shelters.
Heat causes your body to lose water, salt, and minerals called electrolytes through your sweat. In the summer, drink plenty of fluids, and don’t wait until you are thirsty.
Electrolyte drinks can help you replenish the essential minerals you need. However, avoid drinks with a lot of sugar.
Remember, pets and young children in your household also need plenty of water. They may also need reminders to drink!
Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are not truly poisonous, but they do cause a rash in most people who touch them. Rarely, people may have a severe allergic reaction that requires professional medical attention.
Mosquito bites can spread diseases such as West Nile Virus. Clothing that covers your limbs can help protect you from mosquitos and ticks.
If you have been outside in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, always check for ticks when you come inside. Be sure to check your pets, too. When ticks implant themselves, they can spread Lyme disease and other illnesses.
Be sure to use an EPA-registered insect repellant that is safe for you and effective at keeping bugs at bay.
According to the CDC, food poisoning happens most often in the summer. Germs that cause foodborne illness thrive in warm temperatures. Adults who are 65 or older and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to get sick.
Remember that you should never marinate or thaw food at room temperature. Don’t leave meat or vegetables on the counter, or outside during a barbecue. Instead, move food to the refrigerator. Click here for a full list of food safety tips from the CDC.
Many everyday summer activities carry health risks. But with a little bit of planning, you’ll be able to enjoy the best of the season worry-free.
For more information on summer safety, visit the resources below: