Healthy Summer Mistakes

sunburnYou thought it was fine to unpack your picnic basket on bare table in a public playground.  Unless that table is under direct sunlight, you may want to spread a cloth first before you take out anything.  You never know who used the table last.

Summer is all about fun and adventure, so you may want to steer clear of some seemingly harmless activities that could send you home packing:

  • Burying yourself in the sand.  Or playing in the sand with your bare hands.  In crowded beaches, fecal contaminants abound that could cause gastrointestinal problems.  It is better to lie on the surface where the sun’s heat has killed microbes that attach to sand and cause diseases;
  • Swimming without drinking water.  It is easy to forget that your body needs fluids because losing sweat is masked by being in the water.  Even if you don’t feel thirsty, replenish every now and then;
  • Swimming with the crowd.  While it is more fun to have a lot of playmates around, think of the possible contaminants they may bring into the pool.  It is best to avoid swimming when you have open wounds, as you may risk infection.  If you really want to take a dip, wait for the day when the water has been changed or the pool disinfected with chlorine.  It usually takes up to 24 hours for chlorine to wipe out the general bacterial population, so go for a swim when you are least likely to get water-borne diseases.  If you can’t smell chlorine, you may want to take a pass;
  • Swimming in the ocean after a storm.  Storm drains from nearby structures may directly empty out to sea.  The high saline content kill most bacteria with weaker constitutions, but it usually takes up to 24 hours for contaminants to get neutralized by salt;
  • Not reapplying sunscreen when wet.  Even when sunscreens are water-proof, you still need to slather exposed areas at least every two hours;
  • Going shirtless.  Not wearing physical protection while wearing sunscreen.  It’s cumbersome to drape yourself with cloth when you are out swimming, so it is best to stay under the sun at its gentlest, before 10 AM and after 4 PM.  Between those times, it is best to move around with a wide-brimmed hat, sun glasses, and breathable clothing.  Not only do you limit the risk of getting sun burned, you also minimize the risk of going limp due to heat exhaustion;
  • Drinking water from open sources or public fountains.  Camping has its own perks, but potable water is not one of them.  When you are not sure of your water source, it is best to sterilize it before using it for drinking or cooking;
  • Wearing cotton when working out.  Cotton is ideal for non-strenuous activities where perspiration is out of the question.  Synthetic fiber that draws sweat away from skin is more appropriate.  Also avoid wearing loosely-fitting clothing when working out as they may promote chafing;
  • Not allowing the body to acclimatize when exercising.  Some people keep up with the same level of intensity when temperatures were cooler.  Warm summer months mean that a little bit of effort could mean a great deal of sweat.  Where there is sweat, there is dehydration.  To keep that from happening, do not walk or run the same number of miles as you did last spring.  Cut back a few miles, and gradually go back up after two weeks.

While no summer is glitch-free, some dangers lurk in innocuous corners and arise out of good intentions.  Have fun, but keep your eyes open.