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adults, children, outdoors, picnic, camping

Summer is the season to get outside and soak up the sunshine. But it's important to prepare for outdoor activity. Here are helpful tips to keep you and your family and friends safe all season from the sun, poisonous plants and bug bites.


Sun Protection Tips

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in America. It affects an estimated one in five Americans in their lifetime, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most skin cancer is caused by extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunshine, tanning beds and sunlamps. Take the following steps to protect yourself from sun damage:

  • Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 15 or higher.
  • Avoid surfaces that reflect light, including water, sand and concrete.
  • Limit your exposure, especially from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun is at its most intense.
  • Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves, hats, pants and sunglasses.

Use Sunscreen Effectively

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using broad-spectrum sunscreen to block harmful UV light. To get the most protection from your sunscreen:

  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF value of 15 or higher 15 minutes before going outside.
  • Don’t expose your sunscreen to direct light. When outside, wrap the container in a towel, keep it in the shade or put it in a cooler.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if you're swimming or sweating excessively. 
  • Use liberal amounts of sunscreen to ensure adequate coverage on your face and body. 

Poisonous Plants 

"Leaves of three let them be" is worth remembering when you’re spending more time outdoors. Poison ivy, oak and sumac contain an oily sap called urushiol that causes a severe rash, itching and blisters that ooze clear fluid.

To prevent an allergic reaction to summer’s poisonous plants:

  • Avoid contact with plants that typically cause allergic reactions, such as poison ivy, oak and sumac.
  • Remove and wash all clothing that comes into contact with your clothing or the plant.
  • Thoroughly wash your skin and scrub under your fingernails with soap and water after contact with poisonous plants.

Oatmeal baths, oral medication and anti-itch creams and ointments can help reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction and make them more tolerable. Call your physician if your rash spreads, worsens or shows signs of infection such as redness, pain or swelling.


Insect Bites and Stings 

An ant invasion at a picnic ,or mosquitos swarming a barbecue cookout, can ruin even the most perfect summer day. Use these tips to protect yourself from bee stings and bug bites.

  • Avoid areas where mosquitos breed, such as ponds, standing water or swimming pools.
  • Carry an emergency epinephrine kit if you experience allergic reactions to insect bites and stings.
  • Use insect repellant that contains between 10% and 30% DEET.
  • Wear protective clothing when outdoors.


Call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you. Explore Catholic Health's comprehensive services and programs.

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