Summer is the season for backyard barbecues, afternoons in the park and weekends at the beach. While fresh air is good for the body and soul, all that fun in the sun does come with its own set of health risks. The sunscreen part you have down pat: Buy broad-spectrum SPF 30, use lots of it and reapply regularly.
Here are three more hot tips:
Spray away bugs and ticks. DEET-based repellants are the strongest; the higher the concentration, the longer it lasts. You can use DEET on your kids if they’re older than 2 months and the product is less than 30% DEET. Sprays with picaridin are skin-safe, too. If you prefer plant-based options, consider IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which studies show protect as well as low-concentration DEET. Camping and hiking? Spray clothes and shoes (not skin) with a permethrin product to repel and kill the critters.
Take grill temps. Keep a meat thermometer next to your spatula and tongs, and make sure your favorites are fully cooked and bacteria-free. Ground meat should hit an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Steaks, roasts, and chops: 145 degrees plus a 3-minute rest time. Poultry: 165 degrees. Hot dogs: Reheat until steaming. On the other end of the thermometer, insulated coolers should be kept at 40 degrees or below to minimize bacterial growth. A full cooler stays colder than a partly filled one, so pack food straight from the fridge and top with plenty of ice or freezer packs.
Watch for dehydration. If you’re urinating less often than usual, or if your urine is a dark yellow or amber, those are signs of dehydration — a serious condition that can occur if you’re sweating in the sun. Other signs include dry mouth, thirst, fatigue or lightheadedness; in severe cases, you may have rapid heartbeat, fast breathing or skin tenting (skin won’t bounce back when pinched). Prevention is simple: Drink plenty of water and snack on foods with high water content.
The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.