Summer Health

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Summer is a time to get outdoors. You know — hit the trails, barbecue in the backyard, head out for a weekend on the lake. But while there is plenty to do outside in the summer, there are also plenty of things to keep in mind when staying healthy and safe this summer.

The sun is a 27,000,000 °F ball of hydrogen and helium that makes up roughly 99.8% of the mass of our entire solar system. In other words, the sun is big and hot. And although the sun’s rays are nowhere near that 27 million degrees by the time they reach earth, the sun can still be dangerous. The sun’s UV rays can cause sunburns and lead to skin cancer. Keep your skin safe by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing.

While you may want to wear as little clothing as possible so you can get a nice tan, you’re better off wearing long, loose clothing. This helps protect your skin from the sun and even helps keep you cooler than clothing with short sleeves. Cotton gets soaked with sweat and stays soaked. Synthetic materials, on the other hand wick away moisture, and dry quickly. Long sleeve shirts and pants will also help protect you from insects that carry disease and poisonous plants that can cause painful rashes.

Insect bites can be bothersome but they can also be quite dangerous. West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, malaria, and chikungunya virus are just a few of the viruses and diseases that can be carried by insects like ticks and mosquitoes. Here are a few tips from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help you stay safe from insects:

  • Wear the appropriate clothing. Wear shoes instead of sandals, long sleeves instead of short sleeves, pants instead of shorts, and wear a hat. Tuck in your shirt, and tuck your pants into your socks to make it harder for ticks to get under your clothing.
  • Avoid high activity areas. Tall grass is a tick haven, and standing water is like beachfront property for mosquitoes. Avoid these areas to reduce your risk of exposure.
  • Wear bug spray. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how cautious you are or what type of clothes you are wearing, insects will find you. Wearing insect repellant will help keep bugs at bay and reduce your chances of getting bitten.
  • Check for ticks and bites. At the end of the day, check yourself for any bites or ticks that have latched on to you. Keep on eye on any bites that take longer than usual to heal.

One of the great things about summer is the lush vegetation. Treetops are bright and green, and wildflowers are abundant. But this also means that there are plenty of poisonous plants as well. Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and other plants that secrete toxic oils can cause uncomfortable and painful rashes. In severe cases, allergic reactions to these plants can send individuals to the hospital. Learn how to identify these plants, wear protective clothing, and when in doubt, avoid any menacing looking plants.

Your body needs water, and it needs even more of it during the summer. Soaring temperatures take a toll on your body and can leave you dehydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water, especially when engaging in physical activity. It’s typically recommended that an adult drinks 3 liters of water in a day, but you may need more than that during the summer.

Heat stroke is an incredibly serious condition that can cause long term damage to your vital organs, and can even lead to death. Heat stroke occurs when your body is exposed to extreme temperatures, and your body temperature gets excessively high. Those suffering heatstroke should seek immediate medical attention.