Summer holidays are usually a time to gather in carefree celebration with friends and family. However, under the current health climate there are several concerns to consider before engaging in weekend revelry with others. The following tips will help you get the most out of your holiday weekend while also keeping you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.
1) Avoid Large Gatherings
At present there is serious concern regarding the spread of disease among individuals when they gather in large groups. Current CDC guidelines state that the fewer attendees at an event, the better. For this reason, it is best to limit your celebrations to only include people within your household or only a select few from other homesteads. More information about the specific recommendations for your city or county can be found through your state’s CDC website or local health department.
2) Use the Right Sunscreen
Protecting yourself from the sun is also an important part of summer holiday safety. Aside from staying in the shade all day, sunscreen is our best defense against sun damage. However, not all sunscreen is created equal and there can be hidden health risks that come with using it. When selecting a sunscreen try to choose products that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. SPF range is also important. Ideally, your chosen product should have an SPF between 15 and 50.
Besides the grade of sunscreen selected, it is important to consider its ingredients. A common but potentially harmful ingredient to watch out for is oxybenzone. Oxybenzone blocks a great deal of ultraviolet light, but it is also easily absorbed into our bloodstream. Studies have found that exposure to oxybenzone can negatively affect reproductive and thyroid hormones. This may lead to issues such as reduced sperm count, delayed puberty, and distorted estrous cycling.
2) Be Active Apart from One Another
One of the best parts of a long weekend during the summer is that it gives us the opportunity to take advantage of great weather. Regardless if one prefers competitive or casual activities, holiday celebrations almost always include a wide selection of events and sports that suit various fitness levels and competitive preferences. No matter the choice of activity, playing and exercising outdoors in the sunshine can help improve energy levels and mood. However, it is again important to consider the spread of disease during these times. Therefore, activities involving physical contact or close proximity between participants should be avoided.
3) Practice Safe Food Storage
On hot days, especially if you are outside for extended periods, there is danger of not only the body overheating but also picnic supplies and food. When food is exposed to warm temperatures for extended periods of time, bacteria may develop which if consumed could cause food poisoning or other illness. You can reduce the risk of bacteria growth by storing your foods in a cooler with larger chunks of ice that last longer than smaller cubed ice. Also, keep in mind that if any refrigerated foods have been sitting out for over 2 hours, they should not be eaten and instead be thrown away or composted.
4) Stay Hydrated
If you are feeling fatigued and/or lightheaded during your summer holiday celebration, it is likely that you are dehydrated. Many already do not drink adequate water daily, and adding summer factors such as heat and physical activity into the mix significantly increases the risk of dehydration. Fortunately, dehydration can be resolved or avoided entirely by regularly drinking water instead of other beverages. Instead of grabbing a sugary or alcoholic drink from the cooler, take a bottle of water to quench the summer thirst.
5) Eat Healthy
Equally important as keeping the body cooled and hydrated is keeping it fueled with nutrient-dense foods. Unfortunately, many holiday celebrations include large spreads that become overrun with overly processed, sugary and excessively salted options. It is best to avoid these types of food as they can damage in the long run and contribute to various health issues. But not to worry, you can still enjoy holiday foods by choosing healthier options. Instead of eating traditional party foods like potato chips, fatty meats, and sodas, try these alternatives:
- Lean turkey burgers
- Marinated grilled chicken breast
- Whole wheat burger and hot dog buns
- Grilled veggies (asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, etc.)
- Organic baked corn chips
- Grilled peaches with honey (a great dessert option)
6) Prepare Foods Safely
Barbecuing is an activity that accompanies many of our summer holiday celebrations. However, if you are not careful in your preparations, grilled foods may carry certain dangers. For example, charring meats can cause substances known as heterocyclic amines to form. This chemical compound can increase the risk of various cancers if consumed in excess. To limit the number of carcinogens created by grilling, coat the grill and chosen meat in olive oil. You can further reduce carcinogen formation by grilling at a lower temperature to avoid char.
7) Beat the Bugs
During the holiday weekend, we will not be the only one’s enjoying the summer weather. Most of us will share our outings with various pests, including mosquitos and ticks. Bug bites from insects like these account for a significant portion of disease transference; Lyme disease and West Nile virus being perhaps the two most pronounced. Diseases such as these, and many others carried by insects, can have a severe impact on one’s life. The best way to reduce the risk of bug bites and subsequent illness is to employ natural repellents.
There are several effective natural repellents you can use including diluted liquid garlic concentrate, vinegar, and soybean oil. You may also consider additional measures such as using nets, fans, or covers to protect outdoor eating areas, baby strollers and carriers, or your own personal relaxation area.
Celebrate Safely this Holiday
Although summer holidays are usually a time for carefree celebration, it is important to keep in mind that the current public health situation requires that we take certain precautions. The above tips should give you a head start on planning your weekend celebration and ensuring that it will be healthy and fun.