Four tips for a safer summer

June 9, 2020 in Family Caregiving  •  By Miles Varn, MD
summer safety

The combination of nice weather and cabin fever from stay -at-home rules to curb the spread of COVID-19 probably have you wanting to spend as much time outdoors and active as you can on sunny summer days. These tips can help you and your family have a safer, healthier summer.

  • Protect yourself from the summer sun and heat. In addition to using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying it every two hours or immediately after swimming or significant sweating, you should also wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays. Overexposure to the sun can increase the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, conjunctival cancers, and eyelid skin cancers. Staying hydrated when it’s hot and humid is also important. Not drinking enough water increases your risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You can judge how well hydrated you are by the color of your urine. If it’s darker in color, you’re not drinking enough to stay properly hydrated. And if you take medication, check with your doctor to find out if it increases your sensitivity to UV rays.
  • Guard against insect bites. Even if you’re only spending time in your backyard, you could get bitten by mosquitoes, ticks, and other disease-carrying insects. The risk can be even higher if you’re playing, hiking, or walking in the woods or in fields with tall grass or near standing water. To protect yourself, you can use repellents that contain DEET. If you have children under the age of 1, ask your pediatrician what type of repellent is safe based on your child’s age. You should also check for ticks after every foray outdoors and check any pets that go outside, since they can carry ticks into your home.
  • Keep your distance from other people. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that the risk of getting COVID-19 outdoors is lower than in an enclosed space, it’s still important to practice physical distancing and stay at least six feet away from people who do not live with you. That means avoiding sports and activities that require contact or getting close to others like basketball, soccer, or flag football. If you’re walking, running, or hiking, choose less traveled routes or times when fewer people are likely to be out. Carry a mask with you and use it if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t effectively practice physical distancing. You can further reduce your risk by not using public facilities like bathrooms, water fountains, and playgrounds and by washing your hands or using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Play it safe. If you or your children are usually the adventurous type who like riding down a rough trail, free climbing, or other higher risk activities, consider choosing less risky ways to have fun for the time being. Although in many areas hospitals are treating fewer patients with COVID-19 and are not facing a surge that taxes the availability of hospital beds, staying out of ERs and the hospital is still preferable right now.


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