August 16th, 2018

To Your Health: Safety tips to enjoy the warmer weather

By Gillian Slade on May 7, 2018.

After such a long, cold winter we are finally able to celebrate warmer weather.

While enjoying more outdoor pursuits it is good to be reminded of safety precautions.

Wear a sunscreen or a sunblock every day and reapply during the day. You may be longing to add a little colour to your skin — get a “healthy glow” — but it can result in damage to your skin that you will not see the effects of until many years later.

I bought a very large straw hat to wear when going for a walk. I keep it in the car to don when I am driving and can feel the sun beating down on my face and neck.

I have also found better sun protection when using a sunscreen with zinc oxide, which provides UV protection. UV rays can penetrate the skin and make it age faster.

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your arms and hands. With frequent hand washing it needs to be reapplied and even just driving around in your vehicle exposes your hands and arms to a lot of sun.

You may be feeling the urge to get your bicycle out and take a ride. If you have not been riding a bicycle, perhaps a stationary one, through the winter months it is important to start at a moderate pace. Don’t forget clothing and safety gear. It is mandatory for children, under the age of 18, to wear a helmet. Make sure it fits snugly. Helmets act as a shock absorber in falls and reduces the risk of a brain injury.

Some of us have already embarked on some gardening and are itching to get flowering plants in the ground.

Most of us don’t consider gardening physical exercise. After all it is generally pleasure so it is easy to lose track of time or how much exercise we’ve done until it is all over. The muscles we will have used in our exuberance can strain muscles all over the body, not least your back. Protective measures include getting as close to your work as you can. Reaching far means the muscles in your back will be working extra hard.

If you are on your knees, to do some weeding or planting of annuals, don’t reach too far and instead reposition yourself. It is reaching further than normal that often affects the lower back unpleasantly.

Don’t spend too long on your knees at any one time. Do a little kneeling, change to doing a little pruning of a shrub perhaps, go back to kneeling and so on.

While you are in the garden keep a look out for bees, wasps, and hornets. Avoid wearing strong perfumes that will attract insects. Avoid brightly coloured clothing that could also attract them.

Don’t walk around without shoes on. Some wasps make their nest in the ground.

If an insect flies near you it is best to stay calm, breathe deeply, and it will probably fly away after investigating you. If there is an unwanted hive or nest in your garden or home seek professional help to have it removed.

Here’s to enjoy spring weather and outdoor pursuits and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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