Staying Healthy This Summer

Summer of 2020 will look a little different from previous summers because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many businesses in Arkansas, and across the United States, have yet to resume normal operation. Maybe your children are disappointed because they won’t be going to summer camp this year. The 2020 Olympics are the first modern Olympics Games (since 1896) to be postponed during peacetime.  Vacations are being delayed, concerts cancelled, and annual camping called off.

The COVID-19 pandemic brings new challenges, but there are also things that you must do every summer to stay safe and healthy. Click To Tweet

While restrictions are loosening in Arkansas, everyone must still do their part to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect the health of our communities. Staying healthy and safe this summer will require a little extra thought and planning.

COVID-19

Continue practicing physical distancing, wash your hands regularly, and wear a face mask in public.

Follow directives from the Arkansas Department of Health, such as wearing masks in restaurants and places of business.

It’s often easier to practice social distancing outdoors than indoors, but it’s important to follow the correct safety measures when physical distancing isn’t possible.

Crowded river accesses, busy hiking trails, ball fields, and backyard cookouts create situations that make it difficult to practice social distancing. Consider whether you should avoid these interactions, and make a point to wash your hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes, and avoid close physical contact.

Reconsider your summer travel plans. Delaying your family vacation is a small price to pay to protect the health of your family and your community.

Sunburn

Sunburns can be quite painful, and too much exposure to UV radiation increases your risk for skin cancer. Nearly 90% of non melanoma skin cancer is associated with exposure to solar radiation.

  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing that covers the skin.
  • Avoid long periods of exposure to sunlight. Seek shade or head indoors.
  • Don’t forget SPF lip balm, sunglasses, and a hat.

Heat exhaustion

Learn to identify heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion typically occurs during physical exertion in high temperatures. Older adults and young children are at a higher risk for heat exhaustion.

Dehydration

You need to drink more water than usual when spending time in the summer sun. This is especially true if you’re hiking, exercising, playing sports, or otherwise being physically active. Dehydration increases your risk for heat illness, and it cause confusion, fatigue, and lead to accidental injury.

Always carry water with you, especially when you are in places without ready access to clean water.

Foodborne illness

Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, is typically caused by germs and bacteria. Whether you’re camping or cooking out in the backyard, make sure that you follow proper food safety guidelines.

  • Frequently wash hands, surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards.
  • Keep foods separated, and use separate dishes and utensils.
  • Prepare and store food indoors rather than outdoors whenever possible.
  • Stay out of the “danger zone” (keep foods warm over 140°F, or chilled under 40°F).
  • Cook foods thoroughly:
    • 145°F for whole beef, veal, pork, ham, lamb, and fish
    • 160°F for ground meat and egg dishes
    • 165°F for poultry, casseroles, and leftovers

Swimming

Swimming is a fun way to get exercise when done safely. Follow general swimming safety guidelines. Remember never to swim alone, and examine the swimming area before use. Children should never swim without supervision. Remind children not to drink swimming water to prevent recreational water illnesses.

Safety equipment

Make sure that you have the appropriate gear for the activities that you are doing:

  • A helmet that fits is a must for bike rides.
  • You’re required to have a life vest or personal flotation device if you’re in a boat on water in Arkansas.
  • Wear protective eye wear for racket sports.

Lightning

There’s very little that you can do to stay safe from lightning if you’re caught out in a storm. The best thing that you can do is check the weather and reschedule your plans if the forecast calls for lightning.

Insects

Parasites like ticks and mosquitoes can carry disease. It’s especially important to protect yourself from ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes when heading out into nature, but you can come across these pests even in backyards and walking trails in town.

  • Keep grass in your yard cut short.
  • Remove standing water around your house.
  • Stay out of tall grass.
  • Wear insect repellent before heading outdoors.
  • Bathe and thoroughly check for ticks after spending time outdoors.

Poison ivy

Leaves of three, let it be. Learn to identify poison ivy, and avoid it. If you come in contact with poison ivy, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water to help minimize the reaction.

Injuries

Carry a basic first aid with you on our outings to clean and cover minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises. For injuries that require medical attention — stings, allergic reactions, sprains, etc. — know where the nearest urgent care clinic is located.

Sleep

Summer has a knack for derailing sleep schedules, but there’s a good chance that your normal sleep routine has already been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Sleep is always important, however. Implement good sleep habits to help get your sleep cycle back on track.

Share your plans

It’s important that you share your plans with a friend or family member for activities such as hiking, backpacking, and paddling. Accidents can happen, so make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.