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Here in the Northeast, the much anticipated summer has arrived.  After a long and brutal winter we are ready to get outside and enjoy some fresh air (without the fear of frostbite)!

But before we head out into the great outdoors, it’s important to think about safety.  The summer is synonymous with sun and fun, but there are dangers, too.  Make sure that you and your family are protected so you can enjoy the beauty of summer in peace.

Bring your cellphone.  Not for taking pictures or checking Facebook (though I won’t judge if you do), but in an emergency a cell phone can save a life.  Make sure your kids know how to use it (ha ha, probably better than you) and how to dial 911.

Protect against insects.  Besides being annoying, insects like mosquitoes and ticks carry dangerous diseases they can pass on to us.  Make sure you use bug spray that follows the CDC and AAP guidelines for safety.  Bug/sun lotion combos are not recommended because you will either get too much bug spray or not enough sunscreen, depending on how often (or if you) reapply.  We actually had our yard sprayed this summer so we could enjoy it without worrying about bugs.

Use sunscreen as directed.  I know it’s a pain in the rear, but sunscreen is on every “stay safe” list for a reason.  It’s slimy, it makes sand stick to places you’d rather it didn’t, and getting the kids to stop playing every 2 hours isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.  Remember that UV rays still penetrate through clouds, so use sunscreen even on cloudy days.

Cover up.  A lightweight, breathable fabric like muslin or cotton won’t make you overheat and it will give you some cover from the sun.  A wide-brim hat will also give you some shade on those places you don’t notice you’re getting burned, like the tops of your ears or the back of your neck.

Hydrate.  Water, water, water!  Even just sitting in the sun (or outdoors on a sunny day) your body uses a lot of water.  Make sure you replace it throughout the day.  Aim for 1 full glass of water for every hour you’re outside.  Soda, juice, or alcoholic beverages aren’t going to hydrate you as well, so if you’re going to drink them alternate with plain water.

Eat right.  Sugary foods are not a great choice for spending time outside.  Besides the fact that they don’t provide a good source of energy, they also can add to dehydration.  Actually, the best foods for being outdoors are those you’d find out there anyway – fruits and veggies!  I personally find hard-boiled eggs to be a good outdoor food, too.  They’re easy to eat, especially if you take the shell off at home, and they’ll give you some clean, healthy protein for energy.

Get some shade.  Whether it’s under a tree, an umbrella, or stepping inside for a bit, getting out of direct sunlight is a good idea.  Check the UV Index forecast for your area before going out.  The higher the number, the more frequent your sun breaks should be.

One more thing to remember.  Summer is a season filled with fun, barbeques, and parties.  It’s easy to assume that your child is safe in a room or backyard full of people, but that’s not always the case.  A friend of a friend lost their 7-year-old son recently because, at a party full of people, no one was paying 100% attention to this child and he drowned.  Never assume that someone else, even a lifeguard, is watching your child.

Summer is a fantastic time to enjoy time with family.  Something about the warm weather brings out the social side of us and just makes us happy.  Stay safe and have fun!

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