Summer is a great time to get outside, be more physically active and enjoy various exciting seasonal activities and events. Like so many things, however, you can sometimes get too much of a good thing — too much sun, too much heat, too many bugs. Always put safety first and take the necessary precautions for a safe and enjoyable summer.
A big part of staying safe in the heat is having a good plan. Have a rough idea of how long you will be out in the sun and the heat, and then plan accordingly. Protect your eyes and skin and stay covered (wearing loose-fitting clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, etc.) and stay hydrated.
Moderating your exposure to heat goes beyond reapplying sunscreen and covering up. You will want to take extra steps to avoid being outside for long periods in the sun and heat, especially during the peak hours of strongest ultraviolet (UV) rays, during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In the hottest summer months, you will want to pay special attention that by 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., the morning heat may already be more taxing for the body than you might realize.
If possible, make sure that you have an air conditioned oasis where you can take refuge, so that you can get a break from the intense heat. In fact, having access to air conditioning is the number one protective factor for heat-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dehydration is another safety concern during the summer months. Be sure to drink enough liquids throughout the day, as our bodies can lose a lot of water through perspiration when it gets hot out. Drinking plenty of water — even beyond the goal of having eight-8 oz. glasses of water — can be part of good nutrition, too. Snacking on water-rich foods like raw fruits and vegetables can also help keep you hydrated.
Without enough fluids, you may experience dehydration. Look for these signs:
The remedy for dehydration is to slowly reintroduce fluids to the body. Take your time, though, because gulping down water can cause stomach distress. Also, try to avoid alcoholic beverages, because they can ultimately add to your dehydration.
Keep an eye out for those most vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat. Be especially conscious of young children, older adults and pets that all tend to be more susceptible to the complications from dehydration and too much sun and heat. And, never leave children, older adults or pets in a car on a hot day — even with the windows cracked.
While most of the times you'll only experience little to no effect from being out in the sun and the heat, there may be circumstances where you'll need help. Here are a few situations to look out for:
The skin is the body's largest organ. It protects YOU against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Yet, some of us don't consider the necessity of protecting our skin from the effect of UV rays.
There are simple, everyday steps you can take to safeguard your skin from the effects of UV radiation from the sun.
Go to our Sun Safety page for more information.
Keeping everyone safe and sound while you enjoy frolicking in the water takes a little extra effort, but it's certainly worth it. Remember to always have adult supervision for children. Whether they're in the pool or playing in the sand at the seashore, having someone who can help them — should an emergency arise — is essential.
Swimming is an enjoyable way to both cool off and get some exercise. Water safety should be of prime importance and safety precautions should be taken to avoid injuries or accidents:
Take the eye-safety quiz on the right-hand column of this page to check your summer eye safety awareness.
The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) has standards that require employers to provide their workers with the appropriate eye protection. According to these standards, you (or anyone who is watching you do work) should always wear properly fitted eye protective gear, such as safety glasses with side protection/shields, when:
It's also recommended that you protect your eyes from injury when participating in certain summer sports, including:
An important part of summer sports safety is prevention. There's a tendency to say to ourselves, "Oh, I can do that," which in many cases we can, but not without the possibility of injury. It helps to be conditioned to the activities in which we're preparing to engage.
One thing that helps prepare the body for action is warming the muscles and joints through slow and steady movements that ready you for the types of movement that you'll be performing. For example, if you'll be doing a sport or activity that mainly requires your leg muscles, you can take a brisk 10-minute walk or jog in place to gets the blood flowing to your lower body. Once the body is warmed up, you can do some gentle stretches for the muscles and joints that you'll be using.
Another consideration for summer sports safety is protective gear. If you are biking, roller skating, skateboarding, rafting, or taking part in any activity where you might be traveling at high speeds, always make sure you wear a helmet and other protective gear. Also, wear protective gear if you're engaging in activities where you may slip or fall, like rock climbing. Don't forget reflective clothing and lights for nighttime running and biking.
It's probably smarter to avoid doing some riskier activities alone, like swimming, surfing, rock climbing, etc. So, be sure to have someone there who can call for help. There's nothing like having backup from a buddy when you need it most.
Don't forget to give your body a cool-down period after any physical activity — especially if it's something intense or vigorous, like many summer sports activities. Do some gentle stretches for the larger muscles groups — legs, back, chest, shoulders, and arms. Make sure you take deep, relaxing breaths throughout your stretching routine and hold each stretch about 30 seconds or more.
Think safety first for all summertime fun. This gives you the reward of peace of mind while enjoying the beauty of the season and its many pleasant activities.
You must have forgotten your glasses or maybe you just don't trust so many "All of the above" answers. Make sure you think safety first when it comes to your eyes.
You have been paying attention. Remember to always err on the side of safety when it comes to your eyes.
You know your stuff! Keep your eyes safe and share your knowledge with a friend.