The Dog Days of summer is a term used to describe the hottest, most sultry period of the season that lasts from early July to mid-August. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the term is actually in reference to the time when the sun occupies the same region in the sky as Sirius, part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. Sirius rises and sets with sun and because the star is so bright, ancient Romans believe it added to summer’s heat. It’s that heat that can do a number on your health if proper precautions aren’t taken.

Always, Always Drink Plenty of Water

It is important to stay hydrated when working in or enjoying the outdoors. You need to drink more water than usual; at least one to two glasses an hour. And don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, that means you’re already becoming dehydrated. Be aware that muscle cramps, feeling tired or faint or infrequent urination may also be signs of a heat-related illness. Take a water bottle with you whenever you head outdoors.

Never Skip the Sunscreen

Sunscreen isn’t just for going to pool. It should be applied, liberally, every time you leave the house. Going for a quick walk? Apply some SPF30 on your exposed skin. Heading out to a baseball game? Don’t forget the SPF50 on your nose and cheeks. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant and provides broad-spectrum coverage. Apply it at least 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours. Keep in mind it takes one ounce (enough to fill in a shot glass) to fully cover your body.

Put on Insect Repellent

Insect bites are more than just an itchy pain. Bites carry diseases like Zika, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Protect yourself and your family by using an effective insect repellent outdoors. According to the CDC, an effective insect repellent includes one of these active ingredients (which have all been proven safe and effective by the EPA):

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Para-menthane-diol
  • 2-undercanone

Take Time to Cool Down

Extreme heat affects everyone but poses a serious risk for those 65 and older, children younger than two and people with chronic diseases or mental illness, according to the CDC. When the temperatures rise, take extra steps to remain cool. Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible, public facilities. If needed, contact your local health department or find an air-conditioned shelter in your area. Don’t use the stove or oven to cook as it will make your home even warmer. Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and take a cool shower or bath to cool down even more.

Play it smart to have a fun, safe summer! You can always contact our offices for questions about heat-related illnesses.

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