The mercury’s rising and the great outdoors is calling! Whether your summer adventures involve hiking, swimming, grilling, camping or all of the above, be sure safety is a top priority! Here’s your summer checklist to stay healthy and happy during the warm-weather months.

  1. Load up on sun protection. A sunburn can ruin a good vacation, not to mention increase your risk for cancer and cause your skin to age prematurely. Be sure and slather on sunscreen before you go outdoors. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using water-resistant, broad-spectrum protection with an SPF 30 or higher. But don’t stop there! When possible, wear lightweight clothing that will protect you from the sun, along with a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
  2. Don’t forget the bug spray. Bugs can transmit all kinds of nasty diseases. Protect yourself by using an insect repellent that’s registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and contains an active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US), IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone. Learn more here.
  3. Know when to avoid the sun. Lakes, pools, rivers and oceans offer a cool oasis all summer long. But stick to the shade (and the air conditioning) as much as you can between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most damaging. Also, be aware of the daily air quality report, which you can find at If you’re sensitive to pollution, stay indoors when the air quality is at a level that’s unhealthy for you (that number depends on your own susceptibility; unusually sensitive people could experience symptoms at 51 and up on the Air Quality Index; talk to your doctor about what numbers to watch for).
  4. Hydrate. Opt for water as a thirst quencher, instead of sugary beverages, caffeinated drinks or alcohol. Drink when you’re thirsty and make sure you carry along a refillable bottle to help you stay hydrated.
  5. Know your risk factors. Every year, more than 1,000 people die from extreme heat. Some individuals are more at risk of falling ill than others. Those include adults 65 and older and children younger than 2, people with chronic illness or mental illness and people who are obese. In addition, drinking alcohol and taking certain medications may increase your risk for heat related illness. Be sure to listen to your body and seek shade or air conditioning on especially hot and humid days.  
  6. Watch for any new or changing appearances on your skin. If you see a mole or spot that seems to be growing or changing, it could be a concern. The AAD shares some signs to look for that could indicate melanoma, including a spot that appears asymmetrical, has an irregular or poorly defined border, has varying colors, is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser, and is changing in different ways (like size, shape and color). If you have concerns or questions about your skin make an appointment to see a doctor or dermatologist.

The long, lazy days of summer are just around the corner, and adventure awaits. Just be sure to plan ahead so you stay safe and healthy as you make the most of the season. It’ll be over before you know it!