10 Ways to Have a Safe Summer
By Joshua Foster
Summer is time for adventure, getting outside and getting in shape. It’s also time to be extra diligent when it comes to your health and safety. In celebration of June’s National Safety Month, we’re sharing these 10 tips to have fun – but stay protected – all summer long.
1. Do your research.
In Colorado, summer often means outdoor adventures. To stay safe, don’t stumble into things blindly. Have an idea of where you’re going and what you can expect. If you’re hiking, seek out maps and trail advice. If camping, learn about site conditions and rules as well as the area wildlife. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
As you enter the summer, also have an idea of what you’ll be doing. If climbing a 14er is a goal, incorporate a training schedule of stairs, lunges or walking on the treadmill at an incline. If you’re heading to the beach, work on your cardio. Add weights so you develop the strength to pull yourself out of the water safely.
3. Be water smart.
If you have swimming adventures planned, know that being in open water is different from being in a pool. Lakes and oceans require more strength to withstand waves and currents. Know the depths and permitted swimming areas. Use the buddy system and don’t take chances.
4. Be observant.
When you do get to your destination, pay attention to posted rules and maps. Slow down and read the signs. This can not only keep you safe but also protect the environment. People often rush over trails, missing the “do not cross” signs. They end up in a dangerous situation or destroying the ecosystem.
Wherever your summer takes you, make sure to have a plan to stay in touch. Let people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Many places don’t have cell phone reception. Set a deadline to check in so others know you’ve made it back safe.
6. Stay active.
Take advantage of the warm weather and longer days to reduce your risk of issues like obesity, heart disease, and stroke and to stay healthy longer. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise a week. It may seem like a lot but it quickly adds up - Holding walking meetings, playing with the kids, doing yard work, or taking the dog for a walk.
7. Stay hydrated.
Drinking water is important all year, and especially in the summer. The standard recommended amount is 64 ounces a day, but it’s a better strategy to watch for other signs that you’re properly hydrated. You shouldn’t have dry skin or feel feverish. Urine should appear clear, and if you press down on a fingernail and release, the nail should quickly go back to its normal color. This is a good indicator of how fast your blood is flowing. Do not wait until you’re thirsty to grab some water.
8. Rehydrate smart.
If you do become dehydrated, you may feel tired or dizzy or develop headaches, and dehydration in the summer can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, take immediate steps to cool down physically. Get out of the sun, look for shade, and/or seek air-conditioning. Start drinking slowly – but not too much, too fast. You don’t want to slam water. You’ll know you're rehydrated when you start sweating again or your skin tone returns to normal.
9. Stay cool.
As you spend time outdoors, make sure you’re wearing clothes designed for summer. Cotton doesn’t allow sweat to evaporate, which retains heat and adds to dehydration.
10. Look out for the kids.
Finally, remember that all the summer safety rules that apply to grownups are good for kids too. To further keep kids safe, remember awareness. Know they gravitate to high-risk activities, they might not know if they’re getting overheated, and they may not recognize their own physical limitations. Make sure your kids are educated, dressed for the season, and prepared for anything that could happen.
To learn more about staying safe – and living healthy – during National Safety Month and all year long, contact the fitness professionals at the YMCA. We’re here for you!
Joshua Foster is the former Health & Wellness Director at the Downtown Denver YMCA. He has worn various hats over his seven-year career with the YMCA, including Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer. Joshua received his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science Education from The Ohio State University.