June is finally here! We’ve been looking forward to the summer months as eagerly as any 10-year-old staring out of the school window and dreaming of sweet freedom.

Swimming, fireworks, picnics, hiking, boating, biking—these are the pursuits we crave during summer. And while we hate to harsh your mellow, each of these pursuits does come with some risks.

That doesn’t mean you have to avoid your favorite pastimes entirely. Being informed and prepared can go a long way toward minimizing summer risks so you can make the summer of 2017 your best ever.

Sun protection:  Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. For melanomas, the most damaging kind of skin cancer, 90 percent of cases are related to sun (or tanning bed) exposure. To ward off sun damage, covering is more effective than sunscreen. Wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats and seek shade during peak sunlight hours. Choose sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protections and at least SPF 15. Reapply often.

Tick protection: Hikers, campers, and other nature lovers in the Northeast, Southeast, and Great Lakes regions may have heard that the mild weather this winter could bring a bumper crop of ticks—and a new tick-borne disease called Powassan to go along with other nasty tick-bite diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Your best (and really only) protection against these diseases, some of which can be fatal, is to avoid ticks. This means wearing long sleeves and long pants, tucking pants cuffs into socks, andhiking down the center of trails and avoiding brushy overgrown areas. Check yourself, your kids, and your pets daily for ticks if you spend time outdoors. In addition, the CDC recommends using a bug repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or IR3535.

Heat illness: The CDC says that the frequency and severity of extreme heat events is increasing due to climate change. Those who work and play in the outdoors need to be aware of heat illness—how to spot it, how to avoid it. To protect yourself, stay well hydrated. Drink before you get thirsty. Acclimatize yourself by spending shorter periods outdoors in the heat before attempting longer ones. Rest frequently. And watch for signs of heat related illness--like dizziness, not sweating, muscle cramping, and rapid heartbeat—in yourself and others. Seek cooling centers in cities that offer them.

Water safety: Every day in the U.S., about 11 people die from drowning—about 20 percent of those are children. Knowledge is your best defense against drowning. Learning swimming skills can protect you and your children; and learning CPR can help you help others around you. If you boat, make sure to use life jackets—they have the potential to prevent half of all boating deaths. Other ways to be water safe: Know the weather conditions before you swim or boat. Never swim alone. Boating and alcohol don’t mix.

Fireworks: The American Academy of Ophthalmology is behind the observance of Firework Safety Month in June—and you can probably guess why. Many injuries from fireworks affect the eyes. To prevent them, the organization suggests that firework enthusiasts obey all firework laws in their areas; never let children handle fireworks (not even sparklers, which can reach a temperature of 1,200 F; wear eye protective goggles or glasses; and keep bystanders well away.

Stay safe this summer and have a great one!

 

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