August is Seattle’s month to have fun in the sun. There are endless opportunities for being active on the water, in the mountains, or on a beach but summertime play and the associated heat can bring a number of risks, too. It’s important to plan ahead and take precautions against dehydration, sunburn, and pesky bugs. According to the American Red Cross, nearly 70 percent of Americans have been involved in some kind of summer emergency, ranging from insect bites to heat stroke and other life-threatening situations. Nothing can dampen a perfect summer day more than a painful sunburn or itchy bug bites, so be safe out there and stock up on these five essential items to make the most of our last days of summer.
1. Coconut water. You know it’s important to stay hydrated when it’s hot, especially if you’re being active, but did you know liquids with alcohol or sugar cause your body to lose fluids even faster? Coconut water contains many essential electrolytes which help you rehydrate quickly and recover from the heat.
2. White tank or tee. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, so while black is slimming, it’s not the best color if you want to avoid being bitten. Mosquitoes can also smell the carbon dioxide that you exhale and lactic acid from your sweat from up to 20 feet away, so bring along some DEET if you’ll be out at dusk when mosquitoes are most prevalent.
3. Wide-brimmed hat with SPF protection. Since there is a small window of tan-portunity in Seattle, we tend to get a little excited about any chance we have to get bronze (we’ve all seen the bikinis out at Green Lake on a sunny 60 degree day). Wearing sunscreen is a no-brainer, but ears and scalp are two of the most common areas where we forget to apply it. A hat will cover all the nooks and crannies around your head as well as help protect your eyes, lips, and shoulders.
4. Baby carrots. Carrots are the best snack to munch on during the summer because the beta-carotene gives skin an extra glow while also protecting cells from free radical damage from the sun. They have a good amount of fiber and are low in fat and calories so they’ll keep you fuller longer without a bunch of empty calories.
5. Alcohol swabs. Poison oak and ivy contain oil that causes an allergic reaction on your skin. You only need to be exposed to a very little amount of this poisonous oil for it to cause a rash. If you do encounter some “leaves of three” (be on the lookout!), rub the area frequently with alcohol swabs to help remove the oil.
Have fun and be safe out there!
Kelly Singer is a health and fitness expert. She is the former owner of Sassy Fit and is the co-founder of momentum (www.momentumeverywhere.org), a non-profit that installs outdoor fitness equipment at public parks for moms. Follow her on Twitter: @blanksocial.