Autumn is in the air. Leaves are changing, the days seem shorter, temperatures are cooler and the kids are back into their school routine. You can enjoy it all and protect your family by following a few healthy habits.
A lot of people say this is their favorite time of year. There’s something special about celebrating autumn with activities like hiking, camping, football, bonfires and, of course, Halloween. Unfortunately, autumn also has its share of health risks. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid the fun. A few simple steps will help keep you and your family safe and healthy this autumn.
BE ACTIVE BUT BE CAREFUL
Cooler temperatures pull a lot of people outdoors at this time of year. That’s good because we all need to exercise, no matter what time of year it is. But you need to be careful when you enjoy the changing weather. Whether you’re a dedicated leaf-peeper, a fan of “pick your own pumpkin” patches or just enjoy a walk in the brisk air, remember to apply sunscreen. The sun is strong, and your skin still needs protection. The same goes for your eyes. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses.
Long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks will also protect you from bug bites during your walk with nature. It may be cooler outside, but ticks and other insects are still around.
Also, don’t forget your water bottle. It is just as important to stay hydrated at this time of year as it is during the heat of summer.
BE PREPARED FOR COLDER WEATHER
Dress properly for this time of year because exposure to colder temperatures can cause health problems. Young children and the elderly run the highest risks, but anyone can be affected by the change in temperatures. The risk isn’t just outdoors. Remember that space heaters and fireplaces increase the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. This is a good time to clean the chimney, check the furnace, and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
WASH YOUR HANDS
It may get annoying, but you can’t hear this enough times. Germs survive quite well in autumn. Keep your hands clean to reduce the risk of getting sick and spreading germs to others. It is best to wash with soap and clean, warm running water for 20 seconds. If that is not possible, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
HIKING, PICNICS AND CAMPING
Autumn’s beautiful scenery can be breathtaking, but be prepared when you enjoy the great outdoors. A hike can be fun and even educational for the kids, but check the weather before you hit the trail. You don’t want to be surprised by a storm without nearby shelter. You should also stay on marked trails so you don’t get lost.
Observe wildlife from a safe distance. Don’t get too close because that “peaceful” animal may not be alone and will act to protect its family if it feels threatened.
Make sure that your autumn picnic or camping adventure is memorable for the right reasons. Avoid food poisoning by packing the proper items that keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Wash your hands frequently when preparing food and before serving and eating your meal. Don’t forget to clean all surfaces and utensils that come into contact with raw meat or meat juices.
Keep the kids away from the grill, and keep that grill away from anything that can catch fire. The same goes for campfires. Do not build one near tents, tree trunks, fallen trees or low hanging tree limbs. When you are finished with the fire, let it die down, spread the glowing coals, soak them with water, and cover the area with dirt.
Yard work does not end with summer. It may even seem to get worse with all of those leaves all over the yard. Remember to protect your muscles by using the right tool for the job. Lift with your legs, not your back, when moving bags of leaves, and get help if something is too heavy to move or lift by yourself. Work gloves are also a great way to avoid blisters when doing yard work.
DO AS YOU SAY
It’s easy to stress these tips with your family, but it’s better to lead by example. Make sure that you lead the pack by staying active, eating healthy, and washing your hands. Drive the message home to your kids by practicing what you preach.