By Terry Kanakri
With the arrival of summer on Tuesday, June 21, families across Southern California will be heading to the beach, campgrounds and other attractions to frolic in the sun, swim and enjoy other fun outdoor activities as vacation season starts.
However, it’s essential to know the importance of some precautions people should take to ensure good health and avoid injury. Some simple steps may make a difference between being safe and spending time in a hospital.
“It’s very easy to let your guard down and get lost in the fun,” said Dr. Juan Vargas, a family practice physician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “But, knowing how to enjoy summer fun without jeopardizing your health is key to creating good memories, as opposed to a less desirable alternative.”
Protect your skin and eyes
Dr. Vargas noted that if you’re going to spend a lot of time outdoors, using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is critically important to prevent skin cancer. What’s often forgotten is that sunscreen needs to be reapplied about every 1.5 – 2 hours or more frequently when in the water or perspiring, he said. Also, it’s recommended to apply sunscreen even during overcast weather conditions.
When possible, also wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing to cover much of your skin, he added. And, because their skin is more sensitive, completely shield the skin of babies younger than six months from the sun. And, to protect your eyes, wear sunglasses capable of blocking 99% of UVA and UVB radiation.
Drink enough water
During hot weather, you’re at a higher risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses, including cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The heat makes you sweat, which cools you down, but that also means you constantly lose fluid. You should drink water to counteract dehydration in hot or humid weather, regardless of your activity level. Drinking water helps lower your body temperature and replace the fluid you lose through sweating. Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, and/or caffeine.
- To stay safe while swimming, the American Red Cross advises the following:
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
- Provide close and constant attention to children you supervise, even when a lifeguard is present, no matter how well the child can swim or how shallow the water is. Avoid distractions, including cell phones.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Designate a “water watcher” whenever in a group setting.
“Taking these precautions while enjoying the summer months is the best way to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones,” Dr. Vargas said. “That way, you’ll have peace of mind and enjoy the fun, even more, knowing you’re doing what it takes to stay safe.”
About the author: Terry Kanakri is a Senior Media Relations Specialist at Kaiser Permanente Southern California Region.