Summer is the season of outdoor fun. Sunny skies and long days provide endless opportunities to get outside to enjoy the great outdoors. Before you head out on the lake or down the trail, it's important to review your summer safety plan. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe during all of your summer outdoor adventures.
Focus on hydration. With extreme heat comes the need for extra hydration. Failure to stay properly hydrated can lead to heat exhaustion and dangerous heat stroke. Cool water is always the best hydration option during the hot summer months, but drinks with electrolytes are also a good option to replace the fluid and sodium lost during extended exertion. Remember, if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before outdoor activities and always bring plenty of water with you in an insulated water bottle or canteen. For an added hydration boost, choose foods that are high in water; a slice of watermelon on a hot summer day is a great snack and a good vitamin boost.
Respect the water. Before you head to the pool or out on the lake, be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. Some pools offer crash-course swimming lessons to help kids improve their skills before heading on summer vacation. Even the best swimmers can get in trouble, so it's important to always have a healthy respect for the water. While boating, unpredictable weather conditions can turn a leisurely day on the lake into a dangerous outing; be sure everyone wears life jackets at all times while on the boat and have an emergency plan in place. When you're at the pool, keep an eye on kids even when a lifeguard is on duty. Even seconds count: If you have a pool at your home, or you're at a home with a pool, and a child suddenly goes missing, be sure to check the pool for them first.
Go prepared. Before you hit the open road, it's important to take stock of a few things that could help you when you're miles away from the conveniences of home. While your car or smartphone may have a built-in GPS device, it's wise to also have an up-to-date state map on hand to guide your way if tech devices let you down. A fully stocked first-aid kit or roadside emergency kit will help you address any minor emergencies you experience on the road, and a trusty set of jumper cables will ensure what could have been an easy fix doesn't turn into an all-day headache.
Cover up. The sun may be inviting, but it can also cause serious damage to your skin and eyes. The first, and best, line of defense against harmful ultraviolet rays is coverage. Clothes are the best way to keep out harmful rays, but covering up doesn't have to mean wearing heavy layers; a wide-brimmed hat, a silk scarf, and wrap-around sunglasses go a long way in sun protection. You should wear some level of sunscreen every day -- many foundations and moisturizers are now made with SPF built in -- but be sure to apply extra sunscreen when you know you'll be in the sun for an extended period of time.
Arm yourself. As the temperature rises, so do the number of trips to the emergency room. While most cuts and bruises can be treated at home, a broken limb or head injury can result in much more serious consequences. Be sure you and your family are always wearing the appropriate protective gear when riding bikes, skateboards, or motorized vehicles. Helmets are made for everyone from cyclists to skaters to motorcyclists; be sure to wear the right helmet for your activity.