One of the best parts of summer is having the time to do some of the things you really enjoy. This can mean long bike rides, playing football, golfing, camping, hiking, and all kinds of fun activities. Whichever ones you and your family are involved in, you'll have more fun and be safer if you prepare ahead of time and try not to overdo it.
To stay healthy, it's important to take precautions. Some examples are:
- While walking and taking in the sights, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Don't wait until you start to feel thirsty - the need for water starts before you're aware of it. On average, try to drink a cup (8 ounces) of water about 15 minutes before starting out, and then, depending on how hot it is and how fast you're walking, drink 4 to 8 ounces (120 mL to 240 mL) every 15 to 20 minutes. Consider keeping a sports drink handy to help replenish lost electrolytes from excess sweating.
- Stay out of the sun during the hottest times (usually between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and cover up when in the sun.
- If cycling, wear a proper bicycle helmet.
- Stretch before and after physical activities to avoid muscle cramps and soreness.
If you're driving places, be sure your children are buckled up in an approved car seat or booster seat. Don't forget to buckle up yourself!
If you take prescription medications, be sure to have enough on hand when you travel, plus a bit extra in case of delays. If you're traveling by air, don't pack your medications in your check-in luggage - luggage may get delayed or lost. Many people recommend not packing them in luggage at all, no matter how you travel, in case your bags get lost or stolen. Be sure to keep the medications in their original containers, especially if you're crossing borders. Not only is this safest thing to do to avoid medication mixups, it also shows border inspectors what medications you're carrying with you in case you're questioned about them.
For some families, traveling and touring means camping and hiking. Enjoying the outdoors can have a few risks, however; take some simple precautions so you won't have to cut your vacation short.
- Mosquito bites, although not serious for most people, can be uncomfortable. Prevent bites by using insect repellant or oil of lemon eucalyptus on your skin, placing citronella candles around you, and covering as much skin as possible. Avoid being outside at sundown, when mosquitoes are at their worst, and stay away from areas of stagnant water - breeding grounds for mosquitoes. If you do get bitten, antihistamine pills or lotions can help with the itch, as can applying a cool compress to the swollen area.
- Stinging insects are a common outdoor problem both at home and away, and unfortunately, they aren't deterred by insect repellants! Wasps love sweet food, so keep foods and drinks covered while outside and don't wear sweet-smelling perfumes or hairsprays. Bees travel in a straight line back and forth from their hives; avoid getting in their line of flight. Don't allow children to disturb nests or hives - many children have been stung after throwing rocks at nests. If you do get stung, check to see if the stinger is still in the skin (bees sting only once, leaving their stingers), but don't pull it out because this allows more venom to escape. Gently scrape it off with a flat object like the dull edge of a knife or the edge of a credit card. For pain and swelling, try applying a paste of baking soda and water. For itching and swelling, use an antihistamine cream. If the bitten area swells up quite a bit and turns red and antihistamines don't help, consider seeking medical attention.
- Deer ticks are a major concern in some parts of North America because they can be Lyme disease carriers. Found most commonly in the American Northeast, Midwest and West, these ticks hide mostly in shady, tall grass, although they can be found in shrubs, lawns and gardens as well. To avoid being bitten by a tick, wear long pants tucked into socks or boots to keep ticks off your legs. Wear closed-toe shoes (no sandals). After your hike, check your body for ticks, especially the insides of knees and elbows and the neck just below the hairline. If you find a tick, don't panic! Don't grab at it or squeeze it off. Instead, using small tweezers, grab the tick by the head and pull it out, then kill it by placing it in alcohol. Don't cover it with anything or try to kill it while it's on the skin, as this could release more toxin. Once the tick is removed, watch the site for a rash - it can begin up to one month following the bite. If you're concerned, call your doctor.