As the temperature begins to rise and the days get longer, many of us find ourselves heading outdoors to enjoy our favorite activities. Warm weather has its benefits but can pose many health and safety risks if certain precautions are not taken. Please keep the following safety tips in mind so you and your family can continue to enjoy the warm weather ahead.
Dress for the occasion
Dressing for the weather is a simple step you can take to help prevent heat-related illnesses. Choose clothes that are loose fitting and made from a breathable fabric. Wearing a hat that blocks the sun from your face is another great way to stay cool. To protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, wear sunglasses that are designed to block out both UVA and UVB light.
Remember safety equipment
No matter the sport or activity, be prepared with all safety equipment needed to keep all participants safe. Whether you are a pro-biker or a younger child using training wheels, everyone who rides a bike should wear knee pads, elbow pads and a proper fitting helmet to avoid head injuries, a leading cause of head trauma in children2. Pools and water-related incidents are common safety hazards for many families. Ensure every family member has a proper fitting life vest if they cannot independently swim or if you are in an open body of water such as on a boat. If you or your child plays a sport, be sure to include helmets, pads, guards and other safety equipment to keep you in the game.
Warmer temperatures cause you to sweat more, increasing your risk of dehydration. To combat dehydration, it is recommended that you hydrate by drinking eight ounces of water ever 15 to 20 minutes to reduce your risk of heat-related illnesses1. Stay away from drinks that can cause dehydration or are full of caffeine such as alcohol, energy drinks and sodas.
Even on cloudy days, it is important to remember to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen, specifically SPF 30 or higher, can help protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays and the development of skin cancer3. It is recommended that you apply sunscreen every two hours to avoid sun burns. If you are swimming or exercising outside in the heat you may need to reapply your sunscreen more often.
Apply insect repellent
If you will be spending time outside, specifically at night or in a wooded area, it is important that you apply insect repellent liberally to avoid bug bites. Many insect repellents will help prevent mosquito, tick and other biting insect bites4. Family members who are under 10 years old should have an adult apply their insect repellent to prevent accidental oral consumption. For the younger family members who are two and under, insect repellent should be avoided.
Plan exercise accordingly
As the temperature rises, many people find themselves moving their workouts outside. Although there are many benefits to exercising outside, such as boosting your endorphins and providing a variety of terrain to train on, it can also pose health threats. Heat-related illnesses can be avoided by choosing to exercise outside during the cooler parts of the day, such as in the early morning or late evening. If you are new to exercising in the heat, it is important that you take precautions such as starting off slow and working your way up to longer and more strenuous workouts. To help avoid heat-related illnesses, it is recommended you take frequent breaks to rest in the shade, preferably in air conditioning. Utilize these breaks to hydrate, cool down your body and reapply sunscreen.
Address your allergies
For some of us, the start of spring also means the start of allergy season. Although there are many over-the-counter (OTC) options to take care of your seasonal symptoms, it is always a good idea to ask a health care professional before taking any new medications for your runny nose, itchy eyes or irritated skin. Make sure to read the safety label for dosing and ask your doctor if there are any alternatives to consider.
Maintain social distancing and masking safety
Although the weather is getting warmer, we still need to take proper COVID-19 precautions. If you have been vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask in small groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccinated individuals should wear a mask if their outdoor activity requires being among a large group of people where social distancing cannot be easily maintained.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, you should continue standard masking guidelines. Disposable non-medical masks are a great option for those who will be outdoors in the heat.
No matter what the weather, our family medicine providers are always here for you. Schedule an appointment online or call your preferred location to meet with a family medicine provider today.