November 17th, 2018

To Your Health: Don’t put yourself at risk this summer

By Gillian Slade on June 11, 2018.

We are ready to enjoy warmth and summertime’s pleasures but it is good to be reminded of the season’s potential health issues.

The hotter it gets the more we increase our risk of heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration if we spend an extended period out of doors.

Whether you work out of doors or spend a day picnicking you could be at risk. The key is to take breaks inside a building where it is cool and you are protected from the sun. This will allow your body temperature to cool down. It is very important to drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated as you will be sweating more than usual.

If you or someone you are with is showing signs of heatstroke it is a good idea to place cool wet towels on them to reduce the body’s temperature. If symptoms do not improve call for emergency medical help.

Sunburn can be the immediate after effect of an extended period out of doors but the long term damage to your skin will only show up decades later when it is too late to reverse the effects. Use a sun screen with a high SPF and reapply regularly.

Boating, canoeing or kayaking may seem like the perfect way to cool off on a hot day. This early in the season the river flow may be more than you can comfortably handle. Don’t take risks. When you are out on the water make sure you have a life jacket, whistle, and bailing bucket. It is also a good idea to make someone aware of your plans with a time scale in case you need help.

A long bicycle ride is great physical exercise but you need to ensure you have adequate sun protection and a helmet that fits well.

For those family outings and picnics make sure you have adequate cold storage for food and that items are placed in containers that will not have liquid from raw meat mixing with other food. Uncovered food also attracts insects such as wasps and bees.

Wasps can actually nest in grass and when you are out in the garden or cutting the grass there is the potential for disturbing a hive and paying the consequences. With this in mind it is really important to be wearing shoes.

A long walk on a trail or even off trail can be a wonderful way to enjoy nature but this is tick season and you need to protect yourself. Wear long trousers with the pant legs tucked into socks. After your walk it would be wise to take a shower and check your body to ensure you have not picked up any ticks.

Summer can be the ideal time to give your dog more walks and opportunities to enjoy the out doors. Generally we can accomplish this within walking distance from our homes. Taking your pet in your vehicle to a different location should only happen if you plan no others stops along the way. Don’t stop at the supermarket on your way home and leave you dog in the vehicle. You may have intended being a couple minutes but it is easy to get side tracked or it takes longer than you thought to pay for your items. The vehicle can reach unbelievably high temperatures in a very shot time putting the life of your pet at risk.

Here’s to a safe and happy summer 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 or 403-528-8635.

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