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Health & Wellness

6 Tips for a Safe Summer

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Lazy beach picnics, Fourth of July fireworks, refreshingly cool pools, family vacations – summer is almost here, and that’s something to celebrate!

But there are also some precautions you may want to take as you’re planning ahead for the warm months. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), older adults, as well as people with some chronic health conditions, may be more susceptible to experiencing things like dehydration and higher body temperatures.

With that in mind, here are some safety tips that may help keep you healthy all summer long:  

  1. Stay cool. On especially hot and humid days, skip the outdoor activities and plan to do something indoors, where there’s air conditioning. If you’re feeling stir crazy, consider walking around the mall, visiting a museum, or checking out a nearby gym. Or if you’re enjoying time at home, take this chance to do some summer cleaning, whether it’s giving the kitchen a good scrub (it’s the dirtiest room in the house, after all!) or going through your old belongings and making a donation “pile.” To get organized, make a list of things you want to accomplish so that it’s at your fingertips on days when it’s too steamy to be outdoors.
  2. Protect your skin. It’s as important as ever to keep those harmful UV rays off of your precious skin! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, damage can happen with just 15 minutes of sun exposure. The CDC advises people to do the following to help keep the UV rays at bay: find shade; wear clothing that blocks the sun and can protect from UV rays; wear a hat and sunglasses; and, before going outdoors, apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
  3. Know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is a type of “hyperthermia” in which the body can’t control its own temperature. It isn’t just dangerous – it can be life threatening, according to the NIA, which lists the signs and symptoms of heat stroke as a significant increase in body temperature that is often above 104 degrees Fahrenheit; a strong and rapid pulse; the absence of sweat; dry, flushed skin; feeling faint, staggering or even coma. If you suspect you or someone else has heat stroke, NIA instructs people to seek a cool, shady place and call 911.
  4. Lighten up your summer meal plan. Heavy meals and heat don’t go together, which makes summer a great time to experiment with some new, light recipes that use lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden or the local farmer’s market. Try out some new homemade salad dressings, whip up some gazpacho, sample some refreshing spreads (e.g., hummus), or have avocado toast for dinner. Need more inspiration? Here are 43 ideas for hydrating recipes for the season.
  5. Drink up. As people age, their bodies reserve less fluid and they become less aware of being thirsty, especially those who are impacted by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because of that, it’s important to make a conscious effort to drink water throughout the day and avoid getting dehydrated. For some people, it helps to purchase a refillable water bottle, so hydration is always at their fingertips.
  6. Stay connected. Get in the habit of checking in with friends and family. Call on the people whom you think might be the most vulnerable in the summertime. That way, you can keep tabs on whether they’re doing ok, especially if the temperatures are high or weather has been unpredictable. Plus, it’s a great excuse to catch up and get reacquainted.

Summer is a time for relaxation and rejuvenation. When you’ve stocked up on sunscreen and filled your water bottle, it’s time to get back to the carefree routine of reading in the shade by the pool, harvesting a bounty from the garden, and enjoying the great outdoors – weather permitting, of course.

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