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From the American Council on Science and Health

Health and Safety Tips for Your Family's Summer Vacation

Summer brings warm sunny days and opportunities galore for outdoor activities. But bee stings, sunburn, boating accidents and an increased risk of food poisoning can all subtract from the fun.

To help keep such threats at bay, physicians and scientists associated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) have updated their list of Health and Safety Tips for Your Summer Vacation:

  • Practice sun safety. Prevent accelerated aging and reduce the risk of skin cancers by using effective sunscreens and/or protective clothing. And make sure your product is not outdated. A tan may look good now, but your skin won't as you get older.
  • Watch out for poison ivy, oak and sumac.  Poison ivy, oak and sumac are widespread in the United States, and contacting them is a sure way to ruin a vacation! Know where they're found, how to identify and avoid them and the itchy blisters they cause. 
  • Know the signs of Lyme disease.  Tiny deer ticks that carry Lyme disease are common in some areas, so know what they and their bites look like. If you're walking in a suspect area, wear protective clothing, use repellent and check yourself and children carefully to avoid any bites. 
  • Never swim alone, and know your limits - whether in a lake, pool or the ocean. Most drowning deaths are preventable.
  • Wear a helmet.  Protective helmets are a necessity when cycling or rollerblading - head injuries are major causes of death from cycling accidents. 
  • Guard against allergic reactions. If you're allergic to insect bites or stings, wear warning identification and carry medication if necessary. 
  • Know how to prevent and treat travelers' maladies such as motion or altitude sickness and travelers' diarrhea. 
  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB radiation. 
  • Don't forget your prescription medications. Travelers should pack a healthy suitcase - take any prescription medications in your carry-on luggage and, if traveling out of the country, take a prescription along. 
  • Avoid dehydration in hot weather-drink plenty of fluids and take breaks in cool spots when overheated. Be informed about the symptoms of heat stroke.

"Our goal is not to dissuade anyone from participating in summer activities," said Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, ACSH president. "We simply want people to safeguard their fun by taking appropriate precautions."

The American Council on Science and Health is an independent, non-profit consumer education organization concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment, and health. For more information visit http://www.acsh.org and http://HealthFactsandFears.com.