Balanced: Summertime Safety Tips


Last week I reminded you that summer is on its way with UVA, UVB, SPF – Decoding Your Sunscreen; since then, I’ve been anticipating the solstice. Summertime brings sunshine, hiking, camping and warmer water temperatures, but it also brings health hazards.

You know how to protect yourself from sunburns, but what about other ailments? Exercise: Getting in shape for swimsuit season is something most of us strive for, but overdoing it can lead to injuries. To avoid these injuries, ramp up your workouts slowly. Dr. Nancy Yen Shipley offers advice on being a weekend warrior, “[I]t’s better to do 20 minutes of outdoor activity each day than to cram in a three-hour session on the weekend.” Increasing your activity by only ten percent each week is key. Another exercise tip? If you’re a runner, walk the path before you run it; unfamiliar terrain is a common cause of strains.

Keeping cool: Heat rash, a result of blocked sweat ducts, presents itself as tiny bumps on your skin. To prevent it, wear breathable clothing, avoid thick lotions and pick oil-free sunscreen. If you do develop a heat rash, get out of the heat, apply a cool compress and use hydro-cortisone cream to stop the itching.

A more dangerous heat-related condition is heat stroke. Caused by an elevated body temperature due to extreme heat or vigorous exertion while outside, heat stroke occurs when your body cannot dissipate internal heat. Dehydration is another key factor in heat stroke – be sure if you’re going to be outside in the heat keep yourself hydrated!

Itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy: Multiple summertime culprits can cause you to itch; poison ivy, sumac and oak may pop up in your own backyard or on a beach you frequent. Check out photographs of these itch-causing leaves: poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak so you know what to avoid. If you have touched these leaves, wash the area immediately with soap and water. If a rash does develop, calamine lotion, hydro-cortisone or diphenhydramine cream will ease the itching, but the rash may last for up to a week.

To avoid being stung or bitten by a flying insect, avoid bright colors or perfumes–they’re attracted to them! Stick with lighter colors and pastels, which also make it easier to spot ticks. If you are bitten by something, reach for ice–the best immediate anti-inflammatory–which will keep the swelling to a minimum.

By keeping a few tips in mind, you can prevent unnecessary summer ailments. What other summertime issues have you experienced?

When she’s not writing for, Sarah teaches health and science to high schoolers. You can also find Sarah at WEGO Health, where she is an advocate of improved health conditions for women and children of both the United States and globally and on her personal blog, Sarahndipitea.

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  1. EllenSchnak

    4 years ago

    Awesome tips Sarah! Hubs got poison ivy for the first time last week. He’s never had trouble with leaves, but cutting down the vines did the trick. Didn’t think to try ice – I’m off to fix him a bag now. Thanks!

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