Safety can make or break summer

Safety can make or break summer

Summer is one of the most highly anticipated times of the year for college students, since it presents the perfect opportunity to relax and recharge. With the changing of seasons, comes health and safety precautions that students should be aware of in order to make the most of their time away from school.

A student safely enjoys Siesta Beach in Florida. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Weaver)

One of the most important tips that health professionals recommend for the summer is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hydration is especially important during the summer months when there is a need to increase water intake, to counter warmer temperatures. Water helps the body function properly by regulating internal temperature, flushing out waste and preventing fatigue. Stay hydrated this summer by drinking water with meals, carrying a refillable bottle and bringing extra water along if it will be unavailable for an extended period of time.

In addition to staying hydrated, the CDC also highlights the need to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays are an invisible form of radiation that come from the sun. Too much exposure to UV rays can damage the skin’s connective tissue and even increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.

Fortunately, overexposure is preventable by wearing protective clothing like a hat and sunglasses, and by applying sunscreen before going outside. The CDC recommends using sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15 and reapplying it every few hours if necessary.

Finally, the CDC also recommends using insect repellent when outdoors, in order to prevent bites. Diseases like Zika, West Nile Virus and Lyme disease can all be transmitted by common insects like mosquitoes and ticks. Using insect repellent is a simple way to keep pests away and focus more on enjoying outdoor activities. Consumer Reports, working in conjunction with the CDC, found that the most effective products against disease-carrying mosquitoes were Sawyer Picaridin, Natrapel 8 Hour and Off! Deepwoods VIII. All three kept mosquitoes away for about eight hours. The Sawyer Picaridin was chosen as the top insect repellent overall for its ability to keep most all mosquitoes and deer ticks away for at least eight hours.

In addition to these recommendations provided by the CDC, exercising, maintaining a balanced diet and getting adequate sleep, all remain important factors contributing to your overall health. Getting sick from time to time is unavoidable, but taking care of your body takes conscious effort. Keeping these tips in mind over the break will help you have a more fun-filled and enjoyable summer.