Summer is upon us, which means that we need to take a mental shift to warmer weather. This means that we must think about safety when being active outdoors. Here is a list of things to think about as you plan your summer vacations and are active outdoors (running, hiking, gardening, riding your bike, mowing the lawn, etc.).

  1. Wear Daily Sunscreen: Reduce your skin cancer risk by wearing sunscreen daily. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. If you are swimming or sweating, reapply as needed. Mineral based sunscreen is best as it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. I recommend Blue Lizard.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Staying hydrated is important for body function, especially during the summer months. Fluids are lost through sweat. If you’re spending time outdoors, be sure to drink plenty of water. You might also consider drinking a sports beverage to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat. I recommend Nuun tablets that can be dropped in your water. They replenish electrolytes but do not contain as much sugar as drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. You can find Nuun tablets in the Hy-Vee Health Market, New Pioneer Co-op, or likely even the Iowa Running Company.
  3. Use Insect Repellent: Summer not only brings harmful UV rays, but also bugs! Protect yourself from diseases such as the West Nile Virus or Lyme Disease by wearing bug repellent. Be sure to also eliminate any standing water in your yard, which can be breeding grounds for mosquitos.
  4. Eat Healthy Food: Summer is rich here in Iowa with fresh produce. Head out to a local farmers market or consider participating in a CSA share with a local farmer. Remember that the fresh ingredients will be within a certain radius of Cedar Rapids. Even so, consider a small garden box or container gardening on your own porch.
  5. Check Your Car: We can easily get distracted and forget that pets or children may be left behind when leaving the car. The car can quickly reach a high temperature even if just running inside the store quickly. Never leave pets or children inside the car, even if it’s only intended to be a short period of time.
  6. Pay Attention to Poisonous Plants: Poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak can cause issues for a large percentage of the population. Always be aware of the plants around you. If you’re working in brush, wear long shirts and pants, and heavy-duty gloves, and wash them immediately when finished for the day. My motto with poison ivy- “Leaves of 3, let them be!”
  7. Wear Sunglasses: The sun’s rays are not just harmful for our skin, but they’re also harmful to our eyes. Be sure to wear sunglasses this summer to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays, protecting yourself from certain cancers that are UV related.


(Ideas taken from: