The dog days of summer are here, which means enjoying outdoor activities with family and friends and eating at barbeques and picnics. While summer brings outdoor fun, there are some health hazards to be aware of, including intense heat, bug bites, food poisoning, and sunburn. Here are some simple ways to help you and your family stay healthy this summer.
Protect yourself and your family from the sun.
Always apply water-resistant sunscreen with at least Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 and reapply every two hours. Wear wide-brimmed hats; cover up with lightweight, light colored clothing including breathable fabrics such as cotton; and wear sunglasses that block the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Reduce Your Risk for Food-borne Illness.
Practice safe food handling when preparing foods such as meat, poultry, and seafood in warmer weather. While warmer weather is ideal for outdoor picnics and barbecues, it also provides a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to grow, which can cause food-borne illness. Use a meat thermometer to check that grilled meats are cooked thoroughly. Ground beef, for example, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F in order to kill germs found in raw and undercooked meat. Also, don’t cross-contaminate food. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch any other food.
Avoid heat exposure and heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to extreme loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. According to the CDC, heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States from 1979 to 2003. Avoid intense activities between noon and 3 p.m. when the sun is strongest. Also, stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration.