Highlights » Lifestyle » Vol. 52

The five biggest dangers you may face this summer

Summer is supposed to be fun. But Mother Nature’s dangers can lurk outside, whether you are taking a cross-country trip or staying in your own backyard. Outdoor adventure expert Brian Brawdy has released his list of the five biggest dangers most of us will face this summer, along with his top tips for “summer-proofing” your body.

“Summer should be fun and exciting, not a reason to hide inside,” Brawdy said. “Remember that an average of 300,000 people die each year in this country from diseases directly related to inactivity. Hibernation is great for bears, not for human beings. The most dangerous thing about the outdoors is avoiding it!”

Brawdy has identified the top seasonal dangers as:

1. Lyme disease
There are more ticks in more places than ever before. Lyme disease has now become one of the fastest growing epidemics to date. The CDC estimates the number of cases in the U.S. alone to be about 300,000 a year. Tick encounter rates are soaring, and it is time to get educated on best practices to avoid bites and lessen the risk of Lyme disease.

2. West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Zika
Mosquito-borne illnesses are not only problems in the far reaches of the globe – they are right here in our own backyards. We have all been hearing about Zika virus – a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Although it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, it did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil. Dengue fever has recently become an issue in Hawaii, and with recent rains and flooding in some parts of the country, West Nile Virus – and the mosquitoes that carry it – are expected to be back in force this season.

3. Summer heat
This year, heat stroke and hyperthermia will kill as many as 1,700 Americans.

4. The sun’s harmful UV rays
Cancer of the skin is by far the most common, fastest-growing and deadliest of all cancers in the past decade. According to the American Cancer Society, about 76,380 new melanomas will be diagnosed and approximately 10,130 people will die.

5. Dehydration
Stay hydrated. Remember that your body is 70 percent water!

So can you still enjoy getting outside?

“There are simple ways to protect ourselves,” Brawdy said. “By following these tips, we can all enjoy a safe, exciting summer.”

  1. Shop for cutting-edge apparel that repels biting and stinging bugs. For exposed skin, choose an EPA-registered repellent that is a water-based DEET product; it’s more effective than an alcohol-based version. For those of you not crazy about DEET and its application for children, try a citronella-based topical.
  2. Check little ones and all family members for ticks and insect bites or other sites of swelling. Use tweezers, not fingers, to remove any that you find. It takes hours for the tick to transmit the Lyme disease into your bloodstream, so do frequent inspections and take swift action.
  3. Protect your pets! Many people do not know that our pets are just as at risk for Lyme as we are. Protect them with topical flea and tick solutions.
  4. Use an SPF sunscreen. Learn what the SPF numbers mean and understand the difference between SPF and the UPF ratings used for clothing.
  5. Watch the clock, but understand that you won’t necessarily need to stay indoors at certain times of the day if you take the proper precautions.
  6. Stay hydrated.
  7. Wear a hat. It’s a great defense against heatstroke.
  8. Save your eyes by wearing sunglasses. Be sure they are rated for both UVA and UVB protection.
  9. Protect your lips with one of the new balms containing SPF.

For more information, visit BrainBrawdy.com.

Internationally known emergency preparedness expert Brian Brawdy regularly survives and thrives in the extremes.  

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