Summertime 1

Being Cool With Summertime 

By Steve Stone

Summertime is a huge relief from the harsh rigors of winter, but we all must remember that this season too has it’s extremes and its dangers.  With a little preplanning and a bit of common sense, summertime can be a healthy fun part of your life.  

Heat is always an issue in summertime.  The hot still air makes us do that thing that no one really likes...perspire.  To cool off, our bodies expel water in the hope of using the outside air to drop our skin temperature.  Wet skin feels every little breeze, and matches our skin temperature to the air around us.  Very few people realize it, but when the ambient temperature is in the 80s, the air temperature can be in the 70s.  This difference is what our bodies are using to help us cool down.

Although a good way to cool us, sweat has some effects that we need to be aware of.  The most important effect in summertime is dehydration.  Perspiring takes water from us.  It also leaches out salt.  No matter what you may think, or what your healthy diet is, we are salt water based animals. Salt is the balance of acids and bases, and water is the liquid that is combined with dozens of things within us to move things around and do all the processes in our body.  Losing salt and water is a problem. Replacing it is as simple as taking water breaks often, at least twice an hour, and eating something.  Most any prepackaged food has enough salt to replenish a full day of perspiring.

Also, when it comes to perspiration,  remember the old adage you are what you eat. The foods you eat are often translated into special flavors for your skin.  Oils in your food are often partially pushed out to your skin along with salt and water.  Some spices and food components flow out as well. You do not smell your own perspiration, but others do.  Others include insects.  High sugar diets and fructose make you smell sweeter, and as a result attract mosquitoes and other flying insects.  Bananas and soft drinks are major bug magnets.  Garlic and onion also leave traces in your sweat.  While the effects of these spices do tend to keep insects away, they also add enough odor to make your scent displeasing to people. The solution? Simple, watch what you eat.  Reduce your sugar intake if you know you will be outside and sweating. Use less oils or eat less oily foods to reduce stains in your clothing. And about Garlic and onion; just decide which is more important, keeping bugs away, or smelling good to people.

In addition to perspiration, our skin has another issue during summer; solar radiation.  The sun is a huge nuclear reactor, providing enough heat to melt rocks and still heat a number of planets, moons and asteroids.  We are so near to the sun that we can literally burn our flesh or get radiation poisoning from exposure to it simply by being outdoors.  The summertime is especially bad for this. Sun poisoning can happen in as little as an hour of outdoor work.  We have sunblock, which is a available everywhere.  Sunblock is usually a cream you rub over your skin to keep it safe.  It is rated in “SPF” or “Sun Protection Factor”  The rating is a multiplier of your own body’s protection against some of the suns radiation.  An SPF 40 will make your skin able to take 40 times the amount of sun it normally can without visible damage.  Most sunblocks only block against UVB, which is the suntan / sunburn radiation.  Others also block out UVA, which is the radiation that ages skin and can cause skin cancer.   For more information on sunblock, check your library, or visit .

The reality is, most people burn or tan during the summer. It is nearly unavoidable.  Whether it is because we forgot sunblock or because we incorrectly thought that overcast days have less radiation and didn’t worry about it, we likely will have some exposure during the summer.  To avoid problems, be sure to remember that clothes are insulation to the sunlight.  A hat with a brim may save you from having that attractive lizard like face peeling.  Long pants might keep your legs from hurting from sunburn pain. If you do get caught off guard and end up with a skin issue, one of the best ways to keep comfortable is the jell from an aloe leaf.  Prepackaged aloe jells for sunburn relief are available on the market, and aloe leaves themselves are available at many supermarket produce areas.

Summertime is also the time when insects are at their worst.  Mosquitoes and ticks and chiggers all seem to be targeting people.  Fortunately there are many insect repellents on the market.  Mosquitoes flee from Deet, which is in many of the general repellents, and icaridin, which is in more specialized formulas.  Permethrins are good against ticks, but they are not to be put on your skin, just on your clothes. One issue with summertime insect protection is the mixture of sunblock, with it’s scent overriding the protective scents of the insect control. If insects are an issue, be sure to get unscented sunblock, 0r you may be wasting your time and money.

Insects are all around us, and some are so small we do not even see them.   It is important to remember that walks in the woods, and long days outdoors give you more than a layer of sweat, they also give you passengers.  When you go outside for any length of time, you will have at least one insect on you or your clothes when you get back. Changing out of those sweaty clothes is a help.  Putting the clothes in a hamper to reduce the number of wandering insects in your house is a good idea as well.  Additionally, a soapy shower will remove most insects from your hair and body.  While in the shower, be sure to inspect your body for ticks and other insects that may have attached themselves to you.  Do not be shy in your inspection, because if you miss a tick in a spot you were embarrassed to look, you will end up having to show that location to your doctors and nurses.  

While you are outside in the summer, please remember a few wildlife realities.  

1- Parents are out there protecting their babies.  They hunt in odd times to feed them, night animals may be visible hunting and scavenging during the day. Don’t kill an animal because it is out at the wrong time trying to find food for it’s family.

2- Babies are just as dangerous as adults. Poisonous snakes can deliver a full load of venom even when less than 1/4 the size of the adults. Raptors have sharp strong claws at any age. All animals with a mouth will bite, even the cute ones.

3- Wildlife has nature on it. If you pick up a cute baby animal, you have also picked up dozens of tiny invisible mites and insects.  Some of them will like your taste better than the animal.  

4- Parents try to hide their babies, but they rarely abandon them.  If you find a nest of rabbits, or a fawn in your yard, leave it alone.  Momma knows exactly where it is.  Just keep the dogs and cats away and stay back.

5- If you find a baby bird outside it’s nest, just put it back.  The mother will still take care of it, even though a stinky human touched it.  Would you abandon your baby because it smelled bad? Your scent may transfer to the animal, but that NEVER makes the mother stay away.  You standing near and watching the nest for parents is what makes them stay away.

All in all, summertime is a wonderful time to be alive and outdoors. Just be sure to prepare yourself with sunblock and insect control, and remember to give nature it’s due respect. 

© virtual Reflctions 2016