While summer is normally a time for warm weather activities and fun under the sun, it shouldn’t mean letting our guard down when it comes to various health dangers. By taking simple, common-sense precautions, we can have fun and stay safe at the same time. Here are some summer health tips from Maryland Primary Care Physicians:
Tip #1: BEWARE OF THE SUN
Studies show more than a million cases of the most common forms of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and that even a few serious sunburns can increase your risk of getting skin cancer. You can protect yourself during the time of day when the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays are strongest – between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. – by wearing long sleeves and pants, and by applying sunscreen and a protective lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher. The American Cancer Society recommends that children wear a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and that it be reapplied every 2 hours when at the pool or beach where the sunscreen may wear off quickly.
Tip #2: PREVENT HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS
Normally, the body has ways of keeping itself cool, by letting heat escape through the skin, and by evaporating sweat (perspiration). If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, the victim may suffer a heat-related illness. Anyone can be susceptible although the very young and very old are at greater risk. Heat-related illnesses can become serious or even deadly if unattended.
Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat.
Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Remember, have fun, but stay cool!
Tip #3: LAWN MOWER SAFETY
Warm weather means there’s lots of lawn mowing to be done! Always take the following precautions to guard against injury:
Try to use a mower with a safety control that stops the mower if the handle is let go.
Wear sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) while mowing.
Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wearing hearing and eye protection.
Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
Tip #4: BIKE SAFETY
While bike riding is a staple of summer for many, it can lead to death and injury for those who aren’t careful. Some rules for bike safety are:
Always wear a bicycle helmet. Most serious bike injuries are a result of head injury and helmets can help prevent this. Follow all traffic rules (bikes have to follow the same traffic rules and signs as cars), wear bright colors or clothes that reflect light at night so drivers can see you. Also, get a headlight for the front of your bike and reflectors on the front and back of your bike if you ride at night. Wearing a helmet also applies for activities such as skateboarding or rollerblading.
Tip #5: OUTDOOR FOOD SAFETY
No matter what time of the year, more and more people are cooking outdoors. But outdoor barbeques and picnics during the summer pose a few extra challenges. Protect yourself and your friends and family in these ways:
Keep perishable food cool on longer trips; place it in a cooler with ice or freezer packs. Put raw meat/poultry in a plastic bag so juices won’t cross-contaminate your fruits or vegetables
Don’t keep food out in the heat; perishable food sitting outside for more than 2 hours is not safe.
To prevent food borne illness, don’t use the same utensils or platters for raw and cooked meats, and be sure to keep food surfaces clean.
Maryland Primary Care Physicians is a group practice of physicians and credentialed staff, including family doctors, internists, pediatricians, and specialists who provide comprehensive care at eleven offices across central