As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease and more Americans are getting vaccinated, you might be feeling a huge sense of relief that life is getting back to business as usual. However, while COVID-19 case numbers are dwindling, there are many other health risks to consider as we move into the warmer summer months.
We know that your calendar is likely starting to fill up with vacations, beach days and BBQs – we’re so excited for these events with our families and friends too! As you are penciling in your various plans, be mindful of these five common health concerns so you can maximize your fun summer moments.
- Healthy habits for skin protection as you enjoy fun in the sun
We’re all craving days at the beach or pool to soak up some vitamin D. How can you and your loved ones prepare for your fun day in the sun? We recommend staying hydrated, protecting your skin with sunscreen and limiting the amount of time you spend in the sunlight, especially during the peak hours (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) when the sunshine is the strongest.
To help prevent dehydration, make sure you are drinking clear fluids consistently throughout the day. If you’re like our medical team, you probably love a refreshing iced coffee, but remember that caffeine is a diuretic which means an excessive amount can affect how hydrated you are. Yummy snacks like watermelon and cucumbers are a great way to supplement your water intake as well.
While most sunburns will go away on their own, there may be a chance that a severe burn could blister or scar. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 throughout the day to minimize the risk of such injuries. Every two hours or so, reapply sunscreen on yourself, especially if you are sweating, enjoying ocean waves or some time in the pool. Don’t be shy about reminding friends, children or others you are spending time with to reapply too – their skin will thank you!
Lastly, prevent your body from overheating, which can result in possible heatstroke, by limiting the amount of time spent in the direct sun or hot weather. Break up time in the sun by stopping at your local ice cream shop or seeing an afternoon movie in the air-conditioned theater.
2. Tips and tricks for planning a safe and relaxing pool or beach day
Now is the time that many of us take off our pool covers or head over to our local community pools, lakes or beaches. Whether you are just learning how to swim or you have been a seasoned swimmer for many years, ensuring safety in the water is absolutely critical. Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
To help avoid swimming injuries or drowning, never leave a child or someone who does not know how to swim unattended, swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards when available and maintain constant supervision of those in the water. Even if you have a small kiddie pool in the yard, always designate a responsible adult to supervise playtime for children while they are in the water.
You may see news stories or social media posts warning of “dry drowning” or “secondary drowning” — this is when a person ingests water through their nose or mouth and later experiences symptoms like difficulty breathing, fatigue or irritability. It can be successfully treated, and the earlier it’s caught, the better. While it’s important to remember that this is fairly uncommon, it’s best to see a medical provider if you, your child or a loved one have spent time near the water and exhibit any symptoms related to secondary drowning.
3. What to keep in mind as you dust off your grill and fire pit
Many of us have long waited for the end of winter to reconnect with loved ones around a campfire or in the backyard. Before you invite your family and friends over to grill or make s’mores, we suggest creating a safety plan. A fire safety plan should include a checklist to ensure that your grill or fire pit is a safe distance from your house, deck railings, and overhanging tree branches. We also recommend having a hose or fire extinguisher nearby.
While you’re grilling hot dogs for your guests, make sure not to leave your grill unattended while it’s on. Any burns should be treated with a clean, dry cloth in the event of an accident.
Did you know that PhysicianOne Urgent Care’s 23 centers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York can examine and treat burns, cuts, sprains, broken bones or other injuries? You can schedule a virtual visit or check-in ahead of time on our website here.
4. Steps to avoid food-related illnesses at your backyard BBQs
Most of our fondest summer moments occur at our summer picnics and BBQs with family and friends. However, when the temperature gets warmer outside, foodborne germs are more common (including Norovirus and Salmonella).
Before you flip a juicy burger or leave a delicious potato salad out while you enjoy summer festivities, we recommend following the CDC’s four steps to food safety – Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. These steps will ensure that you and your loved ones don’t develop food poisoning or other related food illnesses. A general best practice is that hot foods should stay hot, and cold foods should stay cold. Leaving any food too long at ambient temperature increases the chances of bacteria growing and can make you sick.
Remember to stay vigilant when using sharp objects to prepare for your BBQs. Some general tips to avoid cooking injuries include wearing gloves resistant to punctures, cuts, or moisture; selecting the right tool for the job; sharpening cutting tools and knives regularly (dull blades require more force and may be more likely to slip, cutting the handler); and taking care to cover, store and dispose of sharp objects properly.
5. Advice to help keep rashes and bug bites at bay this summer
Getting outdoors after a long, cold winter in quarantine is great for our physical and emotional health. If you plan on hiking, spending time in or near wooded areas, or participating in other activities where you may encounter plants or bugs, you may run across poison oak, poison ivy and sumac, or find yourself with an insect sting or bite.
To avoid the unpleasant rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac remind children to be careful brushing up against or near any plants. While mowing the lawn or gardening, wear clothing or protective equipment to reduce the likelihood of a reaction to these plants.
Bites from mosquitos, horse flies or other bugs can also cause a reaction. If you or your loved one is bitten by an insect or any kind of animal, be sure to clean the wound properly to avoid any type of potential infection. If you have any concerns about wounds like these, you can seek treatment at facilities like a PhysicianOne Urgent Care location near you.
Check the scalp, elbows, behind the knees and all over for ticks after being in long grass or wooded areas for ticks. If you find a tick on you, monitor for any flu-like symptoms days or weeks after being bitten by a tick or notice that the skin surrounding a tick bite is becoming more swollen with enlarging areas of redness. These symptoms can indicate Lyme disease or something more serious. Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care to have the bite or rash and any Lyme symptoms evaluated.
We hope you have a summer full of much-needed fun and relaxation. The medical team at PhysicianOne Urgent Care understands that after a long year, we all deserve to enjoy a summer in good health. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube for more health tips and to stay connected!