Summer Checklist: What You Don’t Do Can Mean a Healthier You

Picnic table with fresh salsa and salads.Whether you’re heading to the beach or planning a “staycation” this year, here are some “Summer Don’t Do’s” that might surprise you:

Don’t eat your fruits ‘n veggies until you wash them thoroughly. Consider going organic when purchasing produce that sustains high levels of pesticides even after washing. The “dirty dozen” includes apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, and spinach.

Don’t pet Fido if he’s been playing in poison ivy. Rashes from poison ivy, oak, or sumac can be picked up from the urushiol — the substance found in the sap of plants — that sticks to clothing, shoes, tools, toys, and even pets. Surprisingly, it can’t be spread from person to person or by scratching. Wash your skin thoroughly after working or playing outside, particularly if you suspect you’ve come into contact with poison ivy. You might need to wash your gardening gloves, tools — and even the dog!

Don’t shower, don’t wash the dishes, and don’t do laundry during a thunderstorm. Keep the kids away from video games, too. Lightning can travel through wires or pipes extending outside, so it’s important to avoid contact with plumbing and electrical wires during storms. If someone is struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care. Remember, lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge, so you can attend to them immediately.

Don’t hold the mayo at summer picnics and cookouts. You won’t get food poisoning from eating potato salad, chicken salad, and other food just because it contains mayonnaise. The real culprits are the bacteria that flourish on foods containing protein at temperatures between 40º and 140º F. To prevent illness, keep hot foods hot (140º F or above) and cold foods cold (40º F or below). Discard all perishables left at room temperature longer than two hours — one hour if the temperature is 90º or higher. When in doubt, throw it out!

Don’t leave grandma, the kids, or the dog waiting in the car. A car can heat up quickly even when it’s relatively mild outside. On a summer day, temperatures inside a vehicle can climb more than 40 degrees in just an hour! Be careful with outside activities, too. Young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable in hot, humid weather. Prevent overheating by reducing activities. Wear light, loose-fitting clothes and drink plenty of water or sports drinks before, during, and after physical activity. Anyone showing signs of heat illness should lie down in a cool place with legs elevated. Loosen or remove clothing. Use water, wet towels, and fanning to promote cooling until help arrives.

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