Surviving Summer

Summer weather brings fun and just a few challenges to health and well-being. Picnics and outdoor activities carry the risk of sunburn, insect bites, and physical injuries. Temptations like hot dogs, burgers, chips and sweet offerings from well meaning family members can make unhealthy eating tempting. Summer is a great time of year, and a few basics can keep you healthy and injury free while enjoying outdoor activities and “fine dining” in the backyard.

Look before you leap. A simple look around can prevent activities that might end up making you miserable. For starters, never begin a hike, or yard work aggressively. Look around for new inhabitants. Remember that bees make nests in the ground as well as above. Rustle around monkey grass and shrubs - make a little noise before weeding or taking a walk around. Our earthly friends don’t really want to hurt you. Just remain aware to avoid confrontations with snakes, bees, and even the occasional skunk.

Don’t get crazy with harmful sprays and insecticides. Retailers are full of solutions for “cleansing” the earth of anything that gets in our way. Unfortunately, you might be slowly eradicating yourself. Look for insect sprays that are natural and DEET free. You can find natural ways to keep pests out of your home. Remember, the effects of toxins are insidious, and it’s easier than ever to find natural ways to protect your home from invaders. Try citronella oil, or lemon/eucalyptus oil to repel mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can be tricked into believing you’re not human if you don’t smell like one. Use clothing to protect from ticks, and check your skin thoroughly after you’ve been outdoors.

Enjoy your cookout, but skip the appetizers. It’s best to avoid the snack items like chips, and pretzels. Wait for the main course and simply limit your portions. If you need a snack, look for the veggie tray and eliminate the dip. It’s a much easier and less offensive option than bringing your own fish for the grill. Go ahead and enjoy a hamburger, or even a hot dog, but consider skipping the bread. I personally love a hamburger piled high with salad greens. It’s every bit as satisfying as a traditional burger. Focus on fresh strawberries, cherries, watermelon and other fresh fruits.

If you’re highly allergic to bee stings
speak with your doctor about carrying an epi-pen. It can save your life.

Avoid loud concerts and close fireworks. If you do want to see a concert, try sitting away from the sound system, or buy special earplugs that protect from hearing loss. You can find a variety of specialty ear protection at Sensaphonics. Watch fireworks, but wear ear protection. Hearing loss is an insidious process, and we are constantly exposed to more noise than our ears can handle. Noise induced hearing loss estimates show that “Approximately ten percent of Americans between ages 20 and 69—or 22 million Americans—already may have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive noise exposure”.

Protect your eyes and skin from the sun by wearing UV protection at all time. Athletes and anyone engaging in prolonged outdoor activity should consider the addition of UV protective clothing. The Mayo Clinic offers the following advice about UV eye protection:

1.Blue-blocking plastic lenses. Often promoted for sun protection, blue-blocking lenses also block red, amber and blue light —, which makes it difficult to discriminate traffic light colors. Blue-blocking lenses fail the guidelines established by the American National Standards Institute.

2.Polarized lenses. Although polarized lenses protect against glare, they don't meet the criteria for UV protection unless they have additional UV-blocking material in the lenses.

3.Photochromic lenses. This type of lens protects the eyes from glare, sun and UV radiation while also maintaining visual acuity. Also, photochromic lenses do not distort color.

4.Polycarbonate lenses. A wise choice for children and athletes, polycarbonate lenses shield the eyes from UV radiation as well as protect the eyes against impact injuries that may be sustained during play and sports.

Remember that many foods are also capable of preventing damage from the sun’s rays – including watermelon. Wear protective eyewear when mowing or engaging in sports activities that promote eye injuries.

Stay hydrated - Drinking alcohol and tea in the heat isn't your best bet. Make sure you get plenty of water when enjoying time by the pool, engaging in sports or working outside. Signs of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, and in severe cases, you'll stop sweating - a very dangerous sign.

We all love summer and all too often approach it with a bit too much vigor. Make a note to keep your health and well-being in check as you enjoy summer activities. Who wants to miss a picnic for a visit to the emergency room?

Here's video explaining what to do for heat exhaustion. Remember to see a doctor no matter what!