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Public Health Corner: Staying safe in summer

Summer is in full swing here in Minnesota! While we continue to navigate unchartered waters amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to remember basic summer safety, including use of sun protection and bug repellent as well as water safety, whether at the pool or on the lake.

Damage from the sun’s UV rays can happen within 15 minutes of exposure, so it is important to know how hot the sun is. The UV Index Scale can be found at https://www.epa.gov/sunsafety/uv-index-scale-0 which will guide you through how to avoid too much UV ray exposure. When outside in direct sunlight, make sure that you are protecting your skin by wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply throughout the day. Wear clothes that cover your body as well as hats or sunglasses. Too much sun exposure can cause not only sunburns, but melanoma of the skin which is a skin cancer.

Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and those pesky no-see-ums can ruin your time outdoors if you aren’t protected. Using repellents that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are a great way to keep those insects at bay. Ingredients like citronella, vanilla, and DEET are safe to use and effective. The CDC advises to make sure to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s directions. If you are in the woods, it is important to perform a thorough tick check and remove any ticks as soon as possible.

Swimming is a great way to stay cool during the hot summer months, but keep in mind some safety tips. Right now, the CDC states that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread from person to person in pools or hot tubs if they are operated and disinfected properly. However, it is still important to practice social distancing and mask-wearing while in public. Swim with a buddy and if you aren’t a seasoned swimmer, wear a life vest! Having another set of eyes, including on children, while in the water can prevent an accident from happening. Drownings can happen at any age, any time and many times silently. Don’t swallow the water or use the bathroom while in the water and keep un-potty-trained children in a swim diaper!

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes making boating a popular summer activity. While on the water, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sets out some tips to ensure that you remain safe. State law requires children under the age of 10 to have a life vest on at all times when the boat is in motion, as well as enough life vests for each passenger. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume while in the boat, you can be charged with drunk driving while in the boat.

Summer in Minnesota is short and we want to experience all we can during these warm months. While you’re out enjoying the beautiful weather, please remember and practice these easy tips so that you can remain safe and healthy this summer season.

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