DALLAS (BP)–Summer is a great time of year to spend time with friends and family enjoying picnics, camping, swimming, sports and other outdoor activities. Knowing how to stay safe can keep summertime activities fun.
Here in Dallas, hot weather usually starts about April and lasts well into September. This year we actually had our first 100 degree day in April. With soaring temperatures comes the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To enjoy your fun in the sun, be safe.
To prevent sunburn limit your sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is strongest. Always wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and apply it 30 minutes before you go out, then again every two hours.
To prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke, drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks when playing sports or working in the hot sun.
Jumping in the pool or lake can be one of the best ways to cool down, but be careful. Drowning-related injuries are the fifth leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States, averaging nine per day.
Never leave children in the water alone, even for a moment. For younger children, “touch supervision” is a good rule -– keeping no more than an arms length away while in the water. Children who can’t swim should always wear life vests –- not inflatable “floaties” — and both children and adults should wear approved life vests when boating, water skiing or jet skiing.
CAMPING AND PICNIC SAFETY
A hike in the woods or picnic in the park can be great fun, but nothing puts a damper on a picnic like unexpected guests. Mosquitoes and ticks not only make you miserable, but they can also make you sick. Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and ticks can carry Lyme disease.
An insect repellant containing DEET can ward off most ticks and mosquitoes. But don’t use DEET on infants under two months, and for children, your repellant should not contain more than 10 percent DEET. When you’ve been in tall grass or woody areas, check yourself and your children for ticks before going to bed.
Another big risk when eating outdoors is food-borne illness. The FDA recommends leaving food out for no more than an hour when temperatures reach 90 degrees. At lower temperatures, two hours should be your limit. When packing for a picnic, remember to keep hot foods hot (above 140 degrees) and cold foods cold (under 40 degrees).
Get out in the sun and enjoy vacation time with your family, but play it smart. With a little advance planning, summer sun can really mean summer fun.
Tamara Quintana is a graduate of All Saints Episcopal Hospital School of Vocational Nursing and the director of the employee wellness program for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.