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As the weather heats up, the beach bug starts to bite. Picnics, bike rides and strolls in the sunshine beckon us to enjoy the summer. But before you step outside, be aware of the variety of risks to your health that accompany the summer fun.
Skin cancer: The most common of all cancers, caused by overexposure to damaging UV rays. Women looking to get a tan are at high risk. The use of birth control pills can also increase your chance of encountering sun damage. Use a sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 and cover up when possible.
Heat stroke: When the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature, this can lead to brain damage, and even death. Conditions like menopause can make you more susceptible to heat stroke and dehydration. Always drink plenty of water and find shade to cool off.
Air Pollution: Ozone is a pollutant formed in the presence of sunlight, so during the hotter months, ozone levels increase. Women with asthma and other respiratory illnesses will suffer more, especially in cities where pollution is greater. Stay indoors if you experience trouble breathing and avoid strenuous activities.
Insect Bites: When the temperatures heat up, the bugs come out in full force. Mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus and ticks can pass on Lymes Disease, causing serious arthritis and even heart problems. Protect yourself by using a bug repellent with at least 25% DEET; spray clothing as well as your skin to keep the critters away.
Sea Creatures: The ocean is a popular place to swim in the summer, but beware of what lurks beneath. Jelly fish, sharks and even bacteria can make a quick dip turn deadly. Look for posted signs at beach areas and heed their warnings.
Water Recreation: Accidents of the human-kind are lurking at every turn. Swimming, surfing and boating pose a risk to everyone in the water. Drowning is the most common accident. Never swim alone or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When diving or surfing, remain aware of boats or swimmers in the area.
Eye Damage: Sunglasses are not just for show; they should be used to protect your eyes from harmful UV sunrays. Damage can lead to eventual blindness. Wear sunglasses with a minimum of UV400 protection and avoid yellow, pink or blue tints.
Food poisoning: Picnics, a summertime tradition, can be a scary proposition when food is not prepared properly. Undercooked meats, bacteria from dirty hands and lack of refrigeration can be a recipe for disaster. Thoroughly cook foods, wash your hands and avoid any food that has been left out too long.
Bike accidents: Summer time is high time for biking accidents, usually due to collisions with motor vehicles. Always follow the rules of the road and be aware of your surroundings. Wear a helmet, safety pads and be sure your bike is equipped with reflectors.
Medication Side Effects: Medications can cause stronger reactions to sun and heat exposure. Water pills, commonly used by menstruating women, can cause rapid dehydration. Certain heart and blood pressure medicines decrease blood flow to your skin, which can make it difficult to cool off. Ask your doctor what effects the heat may have on you.
Stay safe to enjoy your summer to the fullest!