You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade to the latest version for the best experience. Upgrade your browser now.
Skip Navigation

How to Plan for a Fun Summer: 8 Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy

Dr. Malaika Stoll of Blue Shield provides safety and wellness reminders as we welcome the summer season.
Malaika Stoll
Dr. Malaika Stoll, Blue Shield of California

Summer is a time for fun with family and friends, vacations, swimming and other outdoor activities. But summer is also when the most accidental injuries and deaths occur, due to heat exposure and water safety. Warmer summers caused by climate change — and an increase in resulting weather-related occurrences such as wildfires and floods — add to the risks.

“Summer is full of activities that bring us joy, but we also have to be safe and mindful of our environment so that the fun can continue,” said Dr. Malaika Stoll, senior medical director at Blue Shield of California, who shared the below tips and reminders to plan for a fun, safe summer.

Taking care of your body

  • Prevent overheating: It is best to avoid peak temperatures, especially when exercising, and drink plenty of water. If our bodies get too hot, symptoms such as headaches, cramps and nausea can occur. Dehydration from the heat can affect vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure. If you experience these symptoms, get out of the sun and heat, drink fluids and cool your body down with a cold shower. If unchecked, heatstroke can be life-threatening. If you experience confusion, fainting or a spike in body temperature, seek medical attention in addition to taking steps to cool down.
  • Protect your skin from sunburn: Keep direct exposure to the sun at a minimum, and protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) rays to avoid sunburn and sun poisoning. Wear hats to provide shade and sunglasses to protect your eyes, and consider buying long-sleeved, lightweight UV shirts and pants to protect your body. Use sunscreen and reapply many times during the day. Symptoms of sun poisoning typically involve a rash and/or headache.
  • Avoid summer pests: Prevent bites from mosquitos, ticks and spiders with a product that contains DEET or another insect repellant. For additional protection, wear long sleeves and pants when hiking or out in nature — and especially at night when mosquitos tend to gather. If camping, sleep in tents or use mosquito nets around beds and cots.

Taking care of loved ones

  • Practice water safety: Drowning is a major concern during summer months. Even strong swimmers can run into problems in strong surf or turbulent rivers, and all swimmers are at risk when alcohol or drugs are involved. Ensure your children learn water safety and basic swimming skills. When visiting pools, choose ones that have lifeguards on duty and a shallow section for kids. Always supervise children closely near water, and consider bringing additional adults or responsible teenagers to help. When going to the ocean, research when waves are gentler.
  • Be mindful of the heat for those around you: Remember it’s never safe to leave children or pets in the car, no matter how cool the temperature feels or how quickly you’ll be back. When temperatures reach extreme levels, visit local cooling centers like libraries if you do not have access to air conditioning. This is especially important for elderly people, who are more at risk of heat-related illnesses.
  • Look out for your pets: Remember that high temperatures and bug bites impact your pets, too. Walk your pets in the early morning or evening when the temperature is lower to protect their paws. A good rule is to check if the concrete is uncomfortable to put your hand on, since pets are even closer to the ground. Always make water available when your pet is outside to help keep them cool and hydrated. If ticks are prevalent in your area, make sure you treat your pet with a flea and tick deterrent.
  • Stay informed about fire danger: Wildfire weather in California, which can include a combination of heat, dryness and wind, typically picks up in the summer and impacts air quality. Stay informed about the forecast and check the air quality to limit smoke exposure. This is particularly important for people with asthma and other breathing difficulties. While N95 masks can be helpful for short periods of time, it’s best to stay inside if it’s hazy or smoky outside, especially if you’re asthmatic.
  • Be prepared for extreme weather: Having emergency supplies in the home can go a long way towards easing your mind. Reassure yourself by creating an evacuation plan for fires, floods, landslides and more. If you need additional support, mental health resources for Blue Shield members can be found here.

In conclusion, Dr. Stoll encourages balancing fun with relaxation to ease your mind this summer. “While fun and exciting, new routines in the summer often call for extra preparation,” she said. “Plan activities that are going to be fun and safe. Sometimes, lounging on the patio or playing with the hose in your backyard can be just as fun as a beach outing.”