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Stay healthy, be mindful of summer safety

The Herald Journal - 7/3/2018

I love summer. There are so many daylight hours that allow me to run, hike, bike, paddle and finish all those projects I started in the yard. I love putting on my tool belt, picking up my drill and getting to work. The temperature is cool during the morning and evening hours, so even when the mercury gets above 90 degrees at midday, there are plenty of hours to work or play in comfort.

Our summers also come with dangers, however. There are those pesky mosquitoes, some harboring West Nile virus. Cache County had four confirmed cases in 2017. Luckily, mosquito management is something we can all do. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that we watch out for standing water around our homes. “Tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flower pot saucers and trash containers should be emptied and scrubbed, turned over, covered, or thrown away.” As you wander through your yard looking over your vegetables, mowing the grass, pulling weeds, or just enjoying life, scan for those standing water sources and give them a dump. Using repellents, wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants when mosquitos are biting and making sure your doors and windows shut completely are also good strategies for keeping mosquitos at a distance.

Sunshine, many hours of it, dominates our summers. It’s the ultraviolet rays that give you sunburn — UVA and UVB — and those rays are more intense here in Cache Valley than at sea level. Sun-damaged skin shows its age and sun damage can lead to skin cancers. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends staying out of the sun, or seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., wearing protective clothing and sunglasses, using sunscreen and staying away from tanning beds.

Most reputable sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF number gives you an indication about how effective the product is in allowing the sun’s rays to get through. For example, a sunscreen of SPF 30 allows one-thirtieth of the rays to get through — and probably is enough for all but those with especially sensitive skin. However, one study indicated that people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount. And those sprays that go on clear? They are harder to judge whether you have complete coverage and a lot is wasted in the spraying process. I like to stick to the creams that I can rub on and see. And for complete protection, don’t forget your face, including a lip balm that contains sunscreen. If you want a daily dose of Vitamin D, most people only need about 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine exposure. So, other than those few minutes, it is wise to wear sunscreen.

Finally, we look for relief from the heat in our lakes and ponds, in our rivers and canals and in public and private pools. Be aware of any medical condition that could affect your ability to swim. Make sure children are supervised at all times. Just because a facility has a lifeguard, remember that the lifeguard may be watching 50 kids splashing, waving and yelling. I watch parents let their small kids, wearing water wings or hanging on to a foam noodle, jump in the deep end of the pool, while the parents chat with other parents. I cringe and cross my fingers that the water wings won’t leak and the noodle won’t slip out of that small hand. Swimming lessons are a great summer activity!

There are so many things to do during our summer. Be prepared, be safe and enjoy your Cache Valley summer for years and years into the future. Be Well!


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