Summer safety roundup: 5 tips for a healthy, happy long weekend

Visitors enjoy the warm sun and sand of Wasaga beach. Charla Jones/Globe and Mail file

TORONTO – This long weekend, you might be heading to the cottage, hosting a backyard barbecue or taking a picnic basket to the beach.

Summer is synonymous with great things: patios, ice cream and sandals. But it also has its pitfalls: mosquito bites and sunburn, anyone?

We rounded up our tips and tricks for summer safety, such as sunscreen usage, warding off mosquitoes and keeping your barbecue contamination-free.

Mosquito bites: Are you eaten alive anytime you’re out at dusk? When it’s hot and rainy, it’s the perfect climate for mosquitoes. Canadians know the blood-sucking insects well – sometimes, we’re swatting them away from us but most of the time, it’s too late. They’ve left their mark and we’re scratching for days. Mosquitoes have very poor vision and first see us by silhouette.

Once they’re within a certain distance, their odour receptors kick in. While their eyesight is poor, their sense of smell more than compensates.

Story continues below advertisement

On us, they sniff out the sweat, heat and carbon dioxide we breathe out. It’s especially the case if we’ve had a sweaty day of exercising, hiking or we’re wearing the same clothes out during a camping trip.

Here’s our explainer on why some Canadians are more prone to mosquito bites than others.

The latest health and medical news emailed to you every Sunday.

Secondary drowning: Earlier this summer, a U.S. mom shared her scary story of her son’s near-drowning as a cautionary tale to other families. It wasn’t her toddler’s initial scare she was warning about, though – it was the secondary drowning that followed.

While drowning, a swimmer may breathe water into their lungs. In dry drowning, the larynx shuts as a defense – no water is getting in, but no air is getting in either.

In secondary drowning, water is aspirated into the lungs and collects there. The water collected in the lungs makes it difficult to breathe, and victims often make a “crackle” sound as they try to.

Here’s what parents need to know about secondary drowning and the warning signs.

Picking the right sunscreen:  Applying sunscreen to your face and body is a must before heading in to the sun – it comes in lotions, sprays and gels. While they all contain similar ingredients, Canadian doctors say that spray sunscreen could lead to kids and adults inhaling certain chemicals.

But if it’s your only choice, spray the sunscreen onto your hands and then apply it. Don’t spray the product right onto the body, and especially not the face.

Story continues below advertisement

Here’s why doctors are concerned about aerosol sunscreens and how to pick the sunblock that covers your family’s needs.

Backyard grilling: Here’s a simple rule of thumb to follow if you’re at a summer cookout – keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Make sure your hands, kitchen tools and surfaces are clean. It also helps to use separate cutting boards and knives when preparing meat and raw produce.

Washing raw fruits and vegetables is also key to getting rid of surface bacteria. If not rinsed thoroughly, they can be a source of E. coli – which can make you sick for up to 10 days.

Here’s our food safety guide to barbecuing, along with tips on how to keep your barbecue food safe and how to stick to healthy options.

Heat stroke: Battling the summer heat takes constant hydration, dressing lightly and some common sense. Experts say it only takes 20 minutes for the interior of a vehicle to reach extreme temperatures–even on days that seem relatively mild.

Yet every year dozens of children are being forgotten in vehicles by parents and caregivers who may be distracted, fatigued or are experiencing a break in daily routine.

Here’s how extreme heat affects the body, how to cool off, and how to keep your kids safe from heat stroke in cars.

Story continues below advertisement

– With files from Irene Ogrodnik and the Associated Press

Sponsored content