5 Steps for Safe Fun in the Summer Sun

(Family Features) With an abundance of activities available throughout the summer months, from swimming and hiking to organized sports and spontaneous backyard games, the sunshine leads to fun almost everywhere you look. It’s important to keep in mind a few safety precautions to help enjoy those moments to the fullest, whether your family’s excitement takes place near the water, at the ballpark or around the neighborhood.

Consider this advice from the experts at the American Heart Association for a safe summer.

Stay Hydrated
Hot and humid months lead to more outdoor activities where the warm temperatures may lead to sweating and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Keeping the body hydrated is important for optimal functioning, especially in the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water by bringing refillable water bottles and containers when summer calls for fun on the go. In addition to drinking plenty of water, you can supplement intake by eating foods with high water content like melons, lettuce and cucumbers. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of mild dehydration, including a dry or sticky mouth, headache, muscle cramps, fatigue or decreased urination. More severe cases may include nausea or vomiting, confusion, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, seizures or unconsciousness.

Keep Skin Healthy
Taking steps to protect skin starts before you ever step into the sun, as it may be easy to get caught up in the joys of summer and forget about those damaging rays. Avoiding time spent outdoors in the midday hours helps limit exposure, but it also may not be realistic for busy families with sporting events, pool dates and more. Wearing sunscreen can help reduce the risk of sunburn, skin cancer and early onset of wrinkles; experts recommend using SPF 30 or higher at least 30 minutes before heading into the sun and reapplying at least every two hours throughout long days outdoors. Also consider wearing clothing that protects skin, such as sunglasses, a large-brimmed hat and light, long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Learn CPR
With summer comes rest, relaxation and fun, but it can also bring increased risk with more time spent in the heat and around water. An average of 33 drownings occur in the U.S. each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with one-third of them proving fatal. Knowing CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation – could be the key to saving someone from cardiac arrest or drowning. If performed immediately, it can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association. However, only about 40% of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive help before professionals arrive.

Because about 72% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes, you will likely be trying to save the life of someone you love – a family member, spouse, parent or friend – if called upon to perform CPR. Call 9-1-1, or send someone to do so, then push hard and fast in the center of the person’s chest until medical assistance arrives. Use an AED, if available, following the prompts. If you have been trained, have a pocket mask and are willing and able, give breaths as they are important for children and in situations like drowning. You can learn more about Hands-Only CPR and conventional CPR through resources provided due to the national support of Elevance Health Foundation.

Practice Safe Swimming
Splashing and swimming in a favorite pool, lake, river or ocean provides memories for a lifetime, but it can also be dangerous without the proper precautions. One of the most important steps is to ensure children know how to swim and understand it’s not OK to swim alone, even for adults. Wearing life jackets can prevent accidents whether you’re on a boat or in the water and designating an undistracted “water watcher” can help identify a dangerous situation before it develops.

Secure the Pool
Even when it’s not in use, a pool can be a hazard, particularly for families with young children who may be tempted to play while adults aren’t around. Installing fencing with self-closing gates at least 4 feet high around backyard pools can help separate playful children from dangerous situations. Additionally, be sure to stow away pool noodles, toys, floaties and other accessories once pool time is over to keep them out of sight and out of mind; these symbols of fun can cause temptation for little ones and lead them toward the water when there’s no supervision.

Find more ways to keep your family safe this summer by visiting heart.org.

Signs of Heat Stress
When those bright, sunny summer days call you and your loved ones outside, keep in mind these signs of heat illnesses like cramps, exhaustion or heat stroke. Even on days when it doesn’t seem extreme, heat and humidity can take their toll. If you experience any of these symptoms, find shade, take a break and drink water to cool your body temperature. However, if symptoms continue and worsen or do not improve with hydration and cooling, seek medical attention.

  • Muscle pain, cramps or spasms
  • Heavy sweating or loss of sweating
  • Paleness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fainting or unconsciousness
  • High body temperature (greater than 100 F) with dry skin
  • Rapid pulse


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American Heart Association