Whether you’re at the beach, on a leisurely bike ride or a bushwalking adventure, Summer is a great time to spend outdoors with family and friends. However, it’s important to keep safety in mind, as being out and about during the hottest months of the year can pose some health risks.
There are many different ways you can be sun smart over Summer. The most important measure is to Slip, Slop, Slap. Slip on protective clothing to protect yourself from the sun, Slop on broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), and Slap on a broad-brimmed hat. While you’re at the beach, seek shade (either through a tree or a beach umbrella / shelter) and wear sunglasses. In addition to these simple measures, you should avoid spending time at the beach at the hottest part of the day or when the UV radiation levels are at their highest. You can check the UV levels through the Bureau of Meteorology.
As well as being sun safe, it’s also important to keep an eye on your skin for any changes. Get to know your skin so that you notice any new spots or changes to existing moles or freckles. Skin cancer checks are recommended every 12 months or more frequently if you’re deemed at higher risk. January can be a good time to organise a routine skin check.
Keep hydrated in the heat
Dehydration or heat-related illness is common during the warmer months and can happen very quickly. The body works to keep your temperature regulated at 37 degrees, but when it’s hot, it can struggle to maintain it. Even if you’re not feeling thirsty, it’s important to keep drinking water. It’s also a good idea to wear lighter clothing and stay out of the sun. Early signs of heat stress include feeling hot, tired and flushed in the face. If you find you’re unable to cool down with rest or hydration, seek medical attention.
Try not to do strenuous activities like bike riding or bush walking in the heat or in the hottest part of the day. Consider an early morning ride or walk later in the afternoon.
With 294 drowning deaths in Australia in 2021 alone, being water smart has never been more important, particularly over Summer. If you’re heading to the beach, remember that areas with no flags means there’s no lifeguards patrolling. Be sure to swim between the flags and don’t swim beyond your abilities.
While Summer is the festive season, alcohol and swimming do not go together. Swimming while under the influence is extremely dangerous and puts you at risk of drowning. Rivers or dams are often isolated and not manned by lifesavers, so it’s also important to look out for your friends if you’re swimming in a group.
Finally, never leave children unsupervised in or near water. Child drownings most commonly occur at home in backyard swimming pools. No adult supervision is a key factor, with adults distracted by a phone call or other children. If you have friends over, designate a supervisor so that an adult is watching.
While there’s lots to love about an Australian Summer, one less enjoyed aspect is the prevalence of creepy crawlies. When it comes to the water, bluebottles and box jellyfish are two creepy crawlies to be aware of. If you’re stung by a bluebottle, it’s important that you get rid of any remaining tentacles by gently washing the sting and then apply heat to the area. Box jellyfish stings are far more serious and if stung, you should call triple zero.
On land, be sure to keep an eye out for ticks if you’re walking through dense bushland. Ticks are particularly rife in humid conditions and can be harmful, depending on the type of tick. The best way to avoid a tick bite is to wear covered clothing. However, if this isn’t possible, spray yourself with insect repellent containing diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). Mosquito bites are also common during the summer months so ensure you have insect repellent to keep them at bay.
Keeping sun safe over summer is so important. If you’re due for a skin check, Beach Street Family Practice offers comprehensive skin check services. To book, give us a call on 02 66 54 1282.
Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash