Protecting yourself this summer


Mosquitoes and ticks and sunburn, oh my! Summer is the time when the pace slows and most of us try to take it easy, but there are a few nasty hazards that can ruin your fun in the sun. 

While these risks exist, the good news is preventing them can be as simple as drinking water and wearing sunscreen and insect repellant. You don't want to spend even one of those days either sick or injured — or let's face it — worrying about getting sick or injured. So, here's our guide to summer hazards and how to treat them.





You may have heard the age-old expression: sweat cools you down. True, it’s the body’s mechanism for self-cooling, but you need to fill the tank in order for it to be effective. 

Recommendations on how much water to drink vary - from two to four glasses of water every hour in excessive heat. It might easily slip our minds while running around after the kids, but it’s important not to let that bottle run dry or wait until you are thirsty to drink.

Of course, there is the debate over whether that drink should be ice-cold or hot. The theory behind pounding a mug of scalding tea is that it temporarily heats you from within. This causes you to sweat more, which leads to the cool-down. This is a matter of preference, though!



When the hot weather arrives it feels like such a treat, which means it is easy to get caught out when catching some rays. 

We all know that people with pale and freckled skin are more prone to sunburn than people with darker skin. However, everyone needs to protect themselves from sunburn by applying sunscreen and lotions with SPF and keeping out of direct sunlight. 

Experts warn that most people are not putting on nearly as much as they should. For adults, seven teaspoons are recommended: one for each arm and leg, one for your front, one for your back, one for your face and neck. 

But remember, sunscreen only slows the damage down. If your unprotected skin would burn in, say, 10 minutes, applying factor 30 means that it will take 30 x 10 minutes – so make sure you keep reapplying. You may consider going the whole hog by wearing a hat, sunglasses and spending time indoors during the hottest part of the day. 

Heat stroke


While it's true that your body cools itself naturally through sweating, it's sometimes not enough. The heat can cause illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat rash, and heat stroke. All of these occur when a person's body temperature rises rapidly.

While it’s unlikely that you will be struck down with this if you take the proper precautions, it’s important to recognise what the symptoms are and to take special care with children and the elderly. 

Common symptoms include dizziness, a rapid pulse, nausea, headache, and fainting. But symptoms can vary. Those suffering from heat stroke might have a rapid but strong pulse, while those with heat exhaustion might have a rapid but weak one.

How can you help if this happens? Moving the person to a cooler place and applying wet, cool cloths will certainly help. If the situation is more serious, calling 911 is the necessary first step. 

Stings and bites


No one likes a party crasher, right? Yet picnics and barbecues seem to attract their fair share—at least of the winged variety. These scavengers — wasps, bees, yellow jackets, and hornets — often hover near food and sweet-scented drinks (not to mention people wearing bright colors or perfume).  

Stinging insects may hang out around your garbage cans, too, and build nests in trees, bushes, under the eaves of buildings, and sometimes on the ground (so it’s wise to keep your shoes on). Be cautious about disturbing a nest: removing it could be a job for professionals.

For most of us, stinging insects are just an annoyance. If one lands on you, don’t panic or swat at it. Instead, hold still and gently blow on the insect to encourage it to fly away. If you do get stung, you’ll probably experience localised discomfort and swelling.

Washing the area with cold water, taking an antihistamine, and using a cold compress will help ease pain and reduce swelling.

Be smart in the water


When the temperature rises, we tend to converge on aquatic centers, pools, splash pads, waterparks, and open bodies of water to cool down. 

Always keep an eye on your children when they’re in the water. Getting easily distracted chatting to other beachgoers is common on holidays; reading a newspaper or talking on the phone can all hinder your reaction time. It’s worth checking if there’s a qualified lifeguard in attendance before you or someone you are with enter the sea or public swimming pool. This is especially important for less experienced swimmers.  

Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beachgoers, particularly for weak or non-swimmers. Rip currents have been measured up to speeds as high as 8 km/h, so they can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. They can be very narrow or extend in width to hundreds of yards. 

If you are unable to avoid a rip current and find yourself being swept out from the shore, it is important not to fight the current. Rather, swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards shore. If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.

Food safety


You can’t beat the feeling of a picnic under the sun. But not so much if the mayo sits out too long: nobody wants food poisoning to be the enduring souvenir of the afternoon. 

Food poisoning is preventable by cooking your meats thoroughly and avoiding cross-contamination. When packing a cooler, for instance, wrap raw meats securely to ensure their juices don’t touch anything else in there that is edible. 

Keep everything refrigerated as long as possible before you head out. Store perishable picnic items in an insulated cooler packed with ice. A handy rule of thumb to follow is "last in, first out" - whatever you're going to eat first should go at the top of the cooler.

As for those leftovers? It’s best to avoid eating any food that’s been unrefrigerated for more than two hours. If the worst happens, remember that mild cases of food poisoning can be cared for at home. Avoid solid foods and stick with small, frequent drinks of clear liquid to stay hydrated. 


It's been a long winter. Your barbecue has probably been packed up and stored in the garden shed or even worse, left to get rusty out in the elements.  So, before you go throwing a new bottle of gas onto the connector, or a bag of coals into the barrel, make sure you give it a good clean.

Now you are all set and safe, it’s time to cook! Bacteria are the most common cause of illness from barbecue food. 

When cooking, ensure your food is cooked through and is not pink in the middle. Bacteria breeds at temperatures above freezing and is killed off once it reaches 74 degrees C. Even if the food looks cooked on the outside, you need  to check the centre of it for signs of uncooked meat.

If you are using a gas barbecue, make sure the gas cylinder is a safe distance from the barbecue when being used so it is away from potential dripping grease and flames. 

I hope these common sense tips serve as useful reminder to help you and your family avoid some of common threats that can ruin a perfect summer day.