Tips for enjoying your summer safely

2 weeks ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — It’s finally here – what many Mainers wait for all year: summer weather! While most of us are thrilled with warmer weather and all that entails, like dips in the lake, boat rides, barbecues, and more; it is also a time to take some precautions so you can enjoy these activities safely.

Health professionals from Northern Light AR Gould Hospital want to share these safety tips to help you and your family safely enjoy your summer fun.

Sun safety

Many thrive being out in the sun, reveling in the hot days of summer. But when those days get too hot, like we saw last week, it can bring added health risks, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

John Thyng, PA-C, medical director of Emergency Medicine in AR Gould Hospital’s Emergency Department, offers the following tips for decreasing those health risks.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.

Protect against sunburn. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30; apply 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours or more often if you are swimming or sweating. Stay in the shade when possible.

Never leave anyone (human or pet) in a parked car.

Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day.

Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating.

Water safety

As we enjoy summer activities near the water, it’s important to prioritize water safety, according to Justin White, MD, senior physician executive at AR Gould Hospital. “By following these essential water safety tips and practices, we can ensure a fun and safe summer on the water,” says Dr. White.  

Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. 

Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone.

Ensure active supervision of children around water. 

Avoid alcohol consumption while swimming or supervising swimmers.

Always wear properly fitted life jackets when boating, as well as when appropriate during swimming – such as if you are an inexperienced swimmer or in deep water.

Check weather conditions before heading out on the water in a boat and carry a means of communication to call for help if needed.

Maintain a safe speed and keep a proper lookout for other boats, swimmers, and hazards.

Food safety

Picnic and barbecue season offers lots of opportunities for outdoor fun with family and friends. But these warm weather events also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. 

Nicole Theriault, RD LD, dietitian and manager of Nutrition Services at AR Gould Hospital, offers these safe food handling tips on how to protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness during warm-weather months. 

Keep cold food cold. Keep cold food refrigerated or in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs until you are ready to cook (meats) or eat (salads, raw fruits and veggies) it. Cold food should be stored at 40 °F or below to prevent bacterial growth. 

Organize cooler contents. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. That way, as people open the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.

Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat and poultry securely wrapped to keep their juices from contaminating other food. Don’t reuse platters or utensils; instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.

If you have a buffet style picnic and food is out on a table, make sure to have plenty of ice surrounding your cold food items to keep it in the right temperature zone.  

Cook food thoroughly. Have your food thermometer ready to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly. 

Keep “ready” food hot. Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals. This keeps it hot but prevents overcooking.

Discard any leftovers (hot or cold) that have been left out for more than two hours at room temperature (or one hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

The best advice from the AR Gould team, get outside, be active, and enjoy the weather and your summer activities! But take the steps needed to avoid the dangers of food poisoning, drowning, sunburns, and heat-related illnesses. 

The team at AR Gould Hospital wishes everyone in the community a safe and happy summer!