There’s no better time for enjoying the great outdoors than summer break, but these activities also provide unique risks to your health and safety.
Take steps to protect yourself and your family this summer with these tips.
See a firework show
Although some fireworks seem more innocent than others, most, if not all, publicly sold fireworks offer potential hazards, especially if children are involved. In fact, even sparklers can reach above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding the use of all publicly sold fireworks entirely. Instead, take the family to see local and community fireworks shows that are prepared and put on by licensed professionals. You’ll get all the enjoyment without the risk of injury.
Protect against insects
Zika, West Nile virus and Lyme disease are three of the most common insect-transmitted illnesses, although a host of others make the rounds, too. Do what you can to protect yourself and others by staying indoors during the evenings, and wearing long sleeves and pants when you must be outside.
Use an effective insect repellent containing 10-30 percent DEET, as per AAP and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Children younger than age 2 months should not wear insect repellent, and it should be washed off when returning indoors.
Check yourself and your children for ticks after outdoor playtime is over.
Maintain healthy habits
Hand-washing might be neglected at any time, but it's particularly problematic to easily wash hands in the summer months, what with camping and other outdoor activities making a sink, soap and towels unavailable.
Bring hand sanitizer and other items to ensure proper hand hygiene. You can stave off countless illnesses and disease with simple but proper hand washing throughout the summer.
In addition, avoid overeating the “birthday party diet” of simple carbs (pizza, burgers, fries, barbecue) and sweets (soda, cake, ice cream, popsicles). These types of food are OK to consume on occasion but can hurt your immune system if regularly consumed.
Use sun and water safety
The best prevention for skin cancer and damage from UV rays is covering up. Wear light clothing that covers your skin, or consistently reapply a sunblock of at least SPF 30 that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
Plan activities outside of peak heat hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and drink water throughout the day to avoid feeling thirsty. Take water breaks every 20 minutes during outdoor play, and take a break if you or a child is showing any signs of heat-related illness.
Always supervise kids around bodies of water, and teach them to swim at an early age.
People commonly use a variety of outdoor equipment during the summer that requires special care.
When bicycling, skateboarding, or rollerblading, wear a helmet that fits and has a safety label. This simple act prevents countless traumatic brain injuries and other problems.
Supervise activities on trampolines and other play equipment. Only drivers with a license should operate ATVs, wearing all the necessary protective gear. Keep landscaping equipment in the hands of responsible adults or teens, and clear the area before mowing, to prevent projectiles hitting people.
Visit your doctor
Whether you feel fit as a fiddle or are experiencing pain or symptoms, complete an annual check-up with your primary care provider. Children and growing teens also benefit from an end-of-summer check-up in preparation for a new school year and to ensure everyone is healthy and happy.
A doctor’s visit can cap your and you family's summer with a clean bill of health for the new season.