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Family Health

Six Important Safety Reminders for Another COVID-19 Summer

Published: July 10, 2021

Families everywhere, it seems, are eager to resume some fun in the sun while making up for last year’s COVID-tainted summer.

While vaccinations have certainly changed the course of this pandemic for the better, there are still some things you need to remember before you fire up the grill, hop in the pool or throw that massive backyard bash.


Sun Safety

The hot summer sun’s ultraviolet rays are powerful! And most people think about sunscreen only as they’re heading outside.

Remember: It takes a standard sunscreen at least 15 minutes to get to work. Don’t chance it. Apply well before you head outdoors or – as your sunscreen bottle likely advises – 30 minutes before.

Test your sunscreen IQ, and learn the difference between chemical and physical sun blockers before slathering on the SPF.


Heat Safety

When it comes to another COVID-19 summer, the safest place to be is outdoors, right? Not always. Remember the four D’s when the temperature spikes:

  • Drink up. Staying hydrated is always important. But it’s especially critical in hot, humid weather, as our bodies can lose more than 16 ounces of water in one hour of sweating.
  • Dress accordingly. Protect your skin with more than just sunscreen. As you head outside, don’t forget a hat, shades and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Many swimsuits and moisture-wicking clothes offer great SPF protection.
  • Dodge the outdoors. Your risk of suffering heat-related illness increases in temperatures hotter than 90 degrees. When it’s that hot out, it’s best to stay indoors. If you must head outside, try to do so in the mornings or evenings (before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.).
  • Don’t leave pets or kids in the car. It can take as little as 10 minutes for a medical emergency to occur inside a sweltering vehicle. It goes without saying, but accidents happen. If you have young kids at home, keep your cars locked at all times – even in the driveway. You may know that a hot car is no playground – but they may not.

Here’s more on how to keep heat-related illness from spoiling your summer fun.


Swimming Safety

Drowning, the No. 2 cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, is preventable. But it takes multiple layers of safety – five to be exact:

  1. If you have a pool, make sure you also have four-sided pool fencing.
  2. Do your research to find the most appropriate life jackets for you and your family.
  3. Formal swim lessons may reduce the risk of drowning in children over the age of 1.
  4. It’s critical to have adult supervision by someone who is sober, not distracted, within arm’s length and able to perform CPR.
  5. The presence of lifeguards is so important, but they should never make parents less vigilant. Again, the best strategy to prevent drowning is multilayered.

Be proactive. Learn how to implement these five swimming safety tips, and brush up on your CPR skills before your next trip to the pool or lake.


Food Safety

Everyone – especially infants, young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems – is susceptible to food-borne illness.

Many of us are aware that undercooked meat is one of the biggest offenders of food poisoning, but a clean slate to grill on is just as important.

Familiarize yourself with minimum cooking temperatures. And before placing your burgers and brats on the grill, make sure you preheat it on high for 15-20 minutes to kill bacteria that may be lingering on the grates. Then clean the grill rack using aluminum foil or a nylon brush.

Of course, when it comes to avoiding food-borne illness in the summer, there are many steps you should take. So, wash your hands, and dig into these other tips for summer food safety.


Bug Safety

Insects aren’t just a nuisance in the summer. They can also pose a threat to our health.

Mosquitos can transmit serious diseases, including:

  • Malaria
  • Yellow fever
  • Dengue
  • Zika virus

Ticks can also transmit diseases, including:

  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Avoid standing water, wear loose long-sleeved shirts and pants, and invest in a good insect repellant that contains one or more of the following ingredients:

  • DEET
  • IR3535
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Picaridin
  • p-Menthane-3,8-diol

Here are more tips on protecting your family from some of summer’s creepiest crawlers.


COVID-19 Safety

Even though more than half of the country is vaccinated against COVID-19, a highly contagious delta variant is making its rounds [GJ1] – even here, locally.

The good news? If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re largely protected from severe illness caused by the variant. If you’re not vaccinated, your summer may look a lot like last year’s, as you’ll need to continue masking, social distancing and avoiding large crowds.

Keep in mind that even if you are fully vaccinated, there’s still a good percentage of people who aren’t.  Although it’s unfortunate, it’s our reality. So, it’s a good idea to continue taking many of the precautions you’re used to in an effort to protect you and your family – especially those who aren’t yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

More Resources

About the Author

Dr. Stephen Tetrault, a family medicine physician at Methodist Physicians Clinic, sees the importance in creating strong relationships and believes it’s key to providing quality care. He also values preventive medicine, wanting to see patients when they’re sick and when they’re well.

See more articles from Stephen Tetrault, DO
Photo of Stephen Tetrault, DO