Staying safe in the summer sun

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By Jeff Kazmierski, Copy Editor

Summer’s here, and we all know what that means. Swimming, grilling and consuming large quantities of barley malt-based beverages, right? Before you hit the beaches – or pools, lakes, and ponds – take some time to plan your outing. You want to have fun, but make sure you do it right so you can do it as often as possible. The last thing you want to do is spend half of your summer smearing Noxzema and aloe all over your blistered shoulders, or spend any time at all in the emergency room. So, in the interest of ensuring maximum fun and enjoyment of the summer partying season, here are a few timely tips.

Stay cool

After a long winter like the one we’ve just had, it’s natural to want to head for the nearest patch of sun and soak up some rays to fight off the lingering symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Just do it right.  

Sun protection is important year round, so don’t forget to use a good sunscreen. The CDC recommends using one with an SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, of 15 or higher.  If you’re not familiar with SPF, it’s simply a rating of how much protection the sunscreen provides from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Simply put, an SPF of 2 lets in half of the rays, SPF 4 lets in one-fourth, and SPF 50 lets in only one-fiftieth. Use the highest SPF you can find and really slather it on.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids, and not just sodas and beer. Water cools you internally and helps prevent heatstroke. It’s the best hydration you can get, so don’t be afraid to chug it. In fact, lay off the alcohol and carbonated beverages – they’re actually dehydrating. If you need extra flavor in your drink, add some lemon or lime juice to your bottle of water.

Finally, the best way to keep cool is not to get overheated in the first place. If you’re not in the water, find some shade. Use the break to rehydrate and apply more sunscreen.

Eat well

Long hot days mean lots of time behind the grill, and for most of us that means consuming massive quantities of charbroiled meat. But don’t forget, there’s more to grilling than burgers, franks and ribs. You’ve got to eat a balanced diet, so remember to include plenty of fruits and vegetables when planning your summer feasts.  

Fortunately, Omaha is a virtual Mecca of farmers’ markets. The Omaha Farmer’s Market operates in the Old Market on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at Aksarben Village on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There are so many around town it would be impossible to list them all. It’s a good bet you’ll find several markets and independent stands just driving around. Visit a few and pick up some peaches, bananas, avocados, squash or whatever fruit and veggie you like. Make some skewers and grill ‘em up along with the meat.  

And remember to stay hydrated while you’re working the grill.  Keep a bottle of water handy.

Be safe

You want to have fun this summer, but you also want to be back next year to do it all again.  

Be safe in the water. Never swim alone. No matter how good you think you are, getting in the water without a buddy or a lifeguard present is a bad move. If you’re injured, or otherwise need help, you’ll be stuck.  

Don’t drink and operate any motor vehicle. This includes boats, jet-skis or other personal watercraft. You can get in just as much trouble for drinking while boating as you can while driving. You wouldn’t get in a car with a drunk behind the wheel, so why would you get in a boat with a drunk driver?

Leave the fireworks to the professionals. According to the National Firework Safety Council, in 2007 there were 9,800 firework-related injuries.  Don’t become a statistic.  If you must blow stuff up, keep a fire extinguisher nearby and the fireworks away from people.

Above all, have fun!

This is a lot to digest – no pun intended – so to sum it all up, get out there and have fun, but do it responsibly. Remember your mother’s advice and use sunscreen, drink plenty of water and be safe. We want to see you back in class this fall.

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