As we start spending more and more time outdoors, please consider using these items that I call, collectively, an outdoor survival kit.
• Wide brimmed hat. I know baseball caps are fashionable and more comfortable than wide brim hats but baseball caps leave your ears and the back of your neck unprotected from the sun’s rays. Dermatologists point out that the skin cancer and precancerous lesions they remove now have been a long time in the making. They may have gotten their start when you were a sun worshipping teenager or even younger. Wearing a hat now may stunt their development.
• Sunscreen. There’s not much that I can add to the media stories and ads about the importance of sunscreen. Going out in the sun, even overcast sun, without slathering up is tempting fate.
• Sunglasses. Besides sun glare being uncomfortable, it also may be contributing to another significant, deferred health problem. Ophthalmologists will tell you that the sun’s rays can exacerbate cataracts and macular degeneration. This may not show symptoms until your later years.
• Cell phone. You never know when you may need to call for help, regardless of age or physical condition. If you are at an age and in physical condition that you use a medical alert device, take that with you, too.
• Long pants and long sleeve shirt. This is predicted to be a banner year for ticks and mosquitoes. The best protection is to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt when doing yard work. Tuck the pant legs into socks or boots because ticks are ground insects. They don’t fly but they can crawl up your pant legs and bite your skin. It’s also a good idea to apply a repellant containing the chemical DEET. Covering up will also protect you from the sun.
• Water. Hydration is most important when working outdoors. Hydration is a major key to good health. Dehydration can affect your kidneys and your balance. Identify a nice, cool spot in your landscape where you can take frequent rest breaks. Be sure there’s plenty of water there so you can rehydrate every time you take a break.
Working in our yard should be fun but it can be sheer drudgery if you haven’t taken the precautions listed above to protect yourself from the elements – in this case, the sun and harmful insects. The worst part of not protecting yourself from the sun is that problems may not show up for decades.
The amount of enjoyment you’ll have outdoors this summer will depend on how you approach it. Using everything in your survival kit will help it to be more enjoyable, despite summer heat and humidity.