You’ve waited for it all year, and now the summer season is finally upon us. We’re talking delicious barbecues in the backyard, scenic hiking trails, relaxing pool parties, competitive outdoor sports, itchy rashes, sunburn, dehydration. Wait, what?!
With summer in full swing — and the Fourth of July right around the corner — it’s a safe bet that you’re looking forward to spending some quality time with friends and family in the great outdoors. But before you head out, it’s important to take a few precautions to avoid unnecessary injuries and trips to the emergency room. Here’s what you need to know.
Stay Frosty and Hydrated
Summer is the hottest time of the year. (We know, shocker!) That means you’re more susceptible to heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and cramps. Drinking plenty of cold water is the key to getting through these hot days — and no, sadly that ice-cold beer isn’t going to cut it. In fact, alcohol and intense heat don’t go together as well as you might think, and can actually contribute to dehydration. If you plan on indulging in a few cold ones, be sure to space them out with some good old-fashioned water. And don’t forget about your furry, four-legged pals. They need to stay hydrated, too.
Protect Your Skin
With so much fun to be had during the summer, who has time to think about skin care? The thing is, protecting yourself from harmful UV radiation is kind of a big deal. Especially when you consider that more Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other forms of cancer combined. Slapping on some trusty 30 SPF sunscreen and a floppy hat is a good start. Also, be sure to look for opportunities to shade yourself when possible. ProTip: take an umbrella with you, and you’ll always have a quick source of shade.
Approach Yardwork with Caution
Tools like axes, lawnmowers, and electric weed trimmers are undoubtedly useful for yardwork. They’re also extremely dangerous — conjuring images from classic 80’s horror flicks and leading to an estimated 230,000 hospital ER visits each year. Take precautions by reviewing safety manuals and inspecting tools for defects before using them, and take a quick walk around the yard and look for potential hazards. It’s also a smart move to dress appropriately and use protective gear — like gloves and safety goggles. Most importantly, keep an eye out for people who may be in harm’s way. And always remember, the safest place for children and pets when using power tools is indoors and away from danger.
Spending time on the water is one of the great joys of these hot summer months. Indeed, nothing beats the heat like an afternoon spent in the pool or at the lake. But we’ve all heard the horror stories and tragedies. That’s why it’s so important to take water safety seriously. Learn CPR and rescue techniques, always swim with a friend, keep a close eye on children, teach them water safety skills, and don’t get distracted. On the lake, be sure to wear a Coast Guard-approved floatation device or life jacket, and don’t go in the water without water shoes to protect your feet.
Stay Safe on the Trails
Hitting the trails to find some adventure and take in some natural beauty is an activity tailor-made for summer weather. But a lot can happen out there if you’re not prepared. Before you step out, do some research and gear up properly. Also, be sure you let someone know where you’re going and when to expect you back. We don’t need any 127 Hours scenarios around here. Many injuries and mishaps occur because hikers overestimated their abilities; therefore, be sure to choose a trail that’s right for your skill level. When in doubt, bring along an experienced hiker you can learn from.
You don’t need to be a paranoid, nervous wreck or a fretful buzzkill to enjoy a safe, fun summer season. All it takes is a little preparation and awareness about what you’re doing to avoid any unnecessary mishaps.