Summer vacation—and all the outdoor activities that come with it—are just around the corner. Make this seasonal transition seamless by taking the time now to get caught up on your family’s preventive care needs.
Here’s how to prepare your household to have a healthy, happy summer vacation:
Make sure vaccinations are up to date.
Whether you’re planning to travel locally, abroad or have one long staycation this summer, remember to check that the whole family’s vaccines are up to date. You don’t want to step on a rusty nail while doing some yard work and realize you’re behind on your tetanus shots! Some vaccines are even mandatory for kids’ summer camps. Check with your child’s pediatrician that their immunizations are set for the year, as well as if it might be time for a COVID-19 booster.
Get prepared to protect your skin.
As much as we love and look forward to the sun’s warmth and Vitamin D, without proper protection, the sun can cause skin damage and even skin cancer. Now’s the time to stock up on sunscreen (30 SPF or higher) and get into the habit of daily application and reapplication every two hours. Wearing a hat and lightweight, protective clothing can help, as well as finding shade when outdoors.
Additionally, take some time to do a self-exam and schedule a skin cancer screening, especially if you or your loved ones have risk factors like light skin, skin that easily burns, a family history of skin cancer or a lot of moles.
Prioritize eye care.
When it comes to preventive care, eye health can often fall off the radar. With more time spent outside, too much exposure to UV light can increase risk of eye diseases and other problems. Equip the whole family with UV-blocking sunglasses to help prevent eye damage.
Additionally, depending on your age, it may be time for a routine eye exam. Not only can these annual appointments help determine if you might need corrective lenses—an especially important factor for long summer road trips—but they can also help with early detection of common eye diseases, like glaucoma.
Keep bugs away.
As temperatures increase and the family spends more time outdoors, remember to take precautions to keep New England bugs at bay. Mosquitoes, some of which can spread diseases like West Nile virus (WNV) and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), start to emerge in the warmer, damper months and are most active just before dusk through dawn.
Tick activity is also known to start in the late spring, which can bring illnesses like Lyme disease. To prevent exposure to insect borne-illnesses, keep an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent on hand and minimize skin exposure with full-coverage clothing when spending time outdoors, especially in the evenings.
Create healthy habits.
In addition to taking preventive care steps, introducing good habits can make a big difference in warmer months—for example, drinking more water as the temperatures increase, especially as kids spend more time outdoors engaging in physical activity or attending summer camps.
Creating healthy meals and snacks with seasonal fruits and vegetables is the perfect way to take advantage of the summer’s harvest and increase your vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake.
You can also consider mindfulness as part of your new routine. Summer vacation provides the perfect time for both kids and parents to relax and recharge, especially as the warmer months offer a time to really embrace the outdoors. Here are a few mindful activity ideas that the family can enjoy together this summer break:
- Plan day or weekend trips to nearby nature. New England has dozens of state parks along our mountains, lakes and coasts, as well as Maine’s Acadia National Park.
- Take more walks together. Even a quick 15 to 30 minutes can help everyone get some fresh air and reset.
- Go camping…in your own backyard. Pitch a tent, roast s’mores and spend a night stargazing together.
- Plant flowers or a garden. Choose everyone’s favorites and watch them grow.
With the whole family spending more time together, some extra planning and precaution can go a long way in keeping everyone safe and happy. Keep these tips in mind as summer approaches and throughout the season.