Summer is in full swing, which means there are plenty of outdoor activities going on with the sun beating down on us. While it can be easy to get lost in the outdoors, it’s important to always be aware of the heat and how it can impact your health and wellness. August may be National Wellness Month, but focusing on what you can do all summer is vital to enjoying every minute of it.
Heat-Related Health Issues
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that it can be hotter outside than we think it is. Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean the heat and sun aren’t a factor.
While heat exhaustion can be battled quickly by moving indoors or into the shade, dehydration requires just a little bit more work. Making sure you have more water than you actually need is key to making sure that your body is getting enough water, and isn’t going to be gasping for it when the time comes.
If you enjoy hiking, it’s suggested you drink one liter of water every 1 to 2 hours. This goes for any activity that you’re exerting yourself in, such as kayaking, running, and even exterior housework. Being unprepared for these situations can cause illnesses such as heat stroke, which requires immediate care and can affect vital organs if not treated quickly.
House Work in the Heat
The nicer weather provides a perfect time to work on your garden or the exterior of your house to make it look brand new. Spring cleaning may have come and gone for your indoors, but it’s important to revamp the outside every once in a while!
If you plan on working on your home and it’s on the older side, it’s a good idea to check for hazards before starting. This could include anything from honing in on temperatures outside to asking for a professional’s opinion on asbestos, lead, or other toxins typically found in older homes and exteriors. Combining potential heat stroke with exposure to toxins that can cause cancers will create future health problems down the line.
While heat stroke affects vital organs like the lungs, cancer caused by asbestos can include mesothelioma, which can affect the lining of the lungs, the ovaries, and other organs. Even short-term exposure can cause detrimental health issues if exposed consistently. Lead exposure can cause kidney and nervous system problems. It’s best to be careful, especially if you have children who may be exposed as well. This can actually affect their growth and development at a young age!
It’s important to remember before starting any exterior project that takes longer or involves some sort of renovation to ask a professional for advice. Working on cooler days and knowing what lies underneath those shingles you want to replace can make a difference.
Health Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning
It’s common to connect food poisoning with restaurants or undercooked proteins. However, your picnic basket of food for the beach might be just as risky. Perishable food that you’ve left in a cooler can be a hazard if left out too long.
1 in 6 people will suffer from food poisoning this summer, so make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions for yourself and your family. If you plan on bringing food items to wherever you’re going, make sure you have a cooler for your items that should be refrigerated.
A good rule of thumb here is that if food has been out for more than two hours, it’s probably no longer safe to eat. Often items like fruit, salads, and even cooked meat, can go bad in the sun. Another tip is to keep items like beverages separate from perishable items, meaning you can open your cooler less frequently to maintain the temperature.
Sunscreen and Bug Protection
It might go without saying that wearing sunscreen and bug spray can keep your skin healthy. However, forgetting to reapply is a huge reason there are so many sun and bug-bite-related issues in the summer.
More SPF doesn’t always mean it’s better for you. SPF means sun protection factor, which in turn means how long it might take for your skin to be affected by UV rays. Higher SPFs tend to actually create a false sense of security and can stop people from reapplying when it’s actually needed. It’s suggested to apply a little bit every 30 minutes or so, and a full reapplication every two hours if sweating, or hanging out in the water. Skin cancer isn’t the only concern when it comes to sunny rays; sunburns can truly cause damage to skin cells, and cause wrinkles early on.
As for bug protection, consider switching to unscented soaps if you plan on being outside for extended periods of time; this is a great first step in prevention to avoid the introduction of abnormal scents to the outdoors. If there are plans to enjoy time in heavily wooded areas or near lakes and ponds, make sure you reapply bug spray. These will help keep bugs like ticks and mosquitoes away, without any chance of them even landing on you! Long pants with a breathable fabric will also add another layer of protection. Remember to only spray fabrics and exposed skin, not underneath your clothes.
An untreated insect bite that is constantly rubbed against can cause dermal issues. Make sure you treat these as quickly as possible. When hiking, a medical kit is always recommended, and these usually come with sting relief pads and other items to help avoid inflammation.
Don’t be afraid to make small adjustments to your summer plans to stay cool and be health consious. While fresh fruit and sunscreen might seem like all you need, it’s important to take precautions for the small things. After all, you don’t want to be the one left behind because of a lack of water or food, right? Small changes can truly make this summer a time to be safe, in good health, and fun one.