When summer finally arrives, people start spending a lot of time outdoors, basking in the sun’s long-awaited rays. But the great outdoors can harbor some health risks, especially during the summer, so before you step outside, prepare yourself for these 10 summer health risks.
Summer is also a time for insects to frolic outdoors, but what they bring to the party can be harmful to humans. Mosquitoes are common carriers of many viruses including West Nile virus, while ticks are known for carrying Lyme disease. These insects are impervious to repellent, so it’s best to protect yourself with clothing when spending time outdoors. Be mindful of wearing lighter, summer-friendly colors as insects are more attracted to bright colors. You’ll also want to skip the sweet-smelling perfume, which will attract every bug in the neighborhood.
Although many people enjoy spending the summer months in the sun, too much sun exposure can cause serious problems such as heatstroke or even heat rash. Heatstroke occurs when the body becomes overheated. It can cause dangerously high body temperatures that can lead to fainting and possibly death.
Heat rash is a less serious condition and is caused by blocked sweat glands. Tiny, itchy bumps form on the skin and they can be irritated by chafing clothing, moisture and heat. If you’re prone to developing heat rash, wear light, breathable fabrics to cover your skin when going in the sun and avoid using an oily sunblock.
Heatstroke and heat rash aren’t the only conditions that are caused by the sun. Prolonged exposure can lead to the development of skin cancer. But this is preventable by taking precautions such as wearing protective clothing and sunblock with an SPF of at least 15 when going outdoors.
But your skin isn’t the only part of your body that you should protect from the sun. Your eyes can also suffer damage from the sun’s UV rays, which can become permanent. To fully protect them, wear sunglasses that are equipped with UV-filtering lenses.
During the summer, the pollen count is high and the number of pollutants in the air is exacerbated by the heat. This is bad news for asthmatics as smog and other pollutants can trigger a reaction in a matter of minutes. If you have asthma, always check the air quality before going outdoors and try to stay indoors when the air quality is particularly poor.
Beaches and pools are popular family hang-outs during the summer, but unfortunately, many children are left unsupervised when playing in and around the water, which can lead to an accident such as drowning. Be sure to keep a close eye on your children when they’re playing at the beach or in the pool, and have another adult around to help with supervising duties.
Spending time around the public pool can lead to the development of fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot, which can cause the skin on your feet to itch and peel. To prevent this, wear closed-in shoes or cotton socks when possible around the public pool and in public showers.
Gardening may not seem like a health hazard, but it is possible to overtax yourself with all of the squatting and digging. Always kneel on a knee pad to protect your knees and when doing a repetitive motion, be sure to switch hands so you don’t overwork on side of your body. Also, be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for hidden wasp’s nests or snakes that could be hiding in your shrubbery.
You probably know that poison ivy and poison oak are, well...poisonous, but do you know what they look like? Before camping, hiking, or jogging through your favorite nature trail, educate yourself on poisonous plants and trees and how to identify them.
During the summer, many people feel adventurous and want to try something they’ve never done before like rock climbing or kayaking. But inexperience can lead to injury, so learn the ropes before jumping into a new activity.
Even if you’re just getting back into an old activity like running or jogging, don’t do so on unfamiliar terrain. There may be unexpected hazards on the route that you may not be aware of, so walk the trail first to avoid those hazards and to familiarize yourself with the route.
After a long day, you may want to treat yourself to an outdoor picnic. But be sure to pack your foods correctly – food that’s too warm or has been contaminated can cause food poisoning. According to the CDC, food poisoning is responsible for 5,000 deaths a year. To avoid getting sick, put an ice pack in your picnic basket to keep your foods from spoiling, and seal and store meats away from fruits, vegetables and other foods to avoid any cross-contamination.
These are just a few of the health risks to be mindful of this summer. Have fun and enjoy the weather, but also be vigilant when it comes to summer health risks.