As we enter the middle of July, the desire to travel and gather outdoors is increasing. Despite the DC metropolitan area starting to lift COVID-19 restrictions, it’s still important to take appropriate precautions when you leave your home. Also, don’t forget about summer safety measures to protect yourself and your family from the sun and heat.
Follow these tips to enjoy everything our region has to offer while staying safe:
1. Stay Active
Since March, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced us to avoid venturing out of our homes unless absolutely necessary. However, as long as you follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask, it is safe to spend time outdoors. Remember, leading an active lifestyle is important for your long-term health. Try going on walks or runs in your neighborhood as a form of exercise.
For a change of scenery, check out these public trails and green spaces:
- Tregaron Conservancy – Washington, DC
- DC Neighborhood Heritage Trails – Washington, DC
- Meridian Hill (Malcolm X) Park – Washington, DC
- Sligo Creek Trails – Montgomery County, MD
- Michigan Park Hills Park – Chillum, MD
- Lewisdale Park – Adelphi, MD
- Scott’s Run – Fairfax, VA
If you plan on visiting a trail in a wooded area, be sure to wear bug repellent to keep ticks and mosquitoes away, and check the weather forecast to avoid getting caught in a thunderstorm.
2. Stay Protected
Whether you’re enjoying one of the many green spaces the DC area has to offer or you’re just running errands, outdoor time puts you at risk of sunburn. Even when it’s cloudy, harmful UV rays still come through and cause sun damage.
Sunburns are one of the most common signs of sun damage. For people with darker skin tones, redness is not the only sign of a burn; the feeling of tight or hot skin is another sign. If you do get sunburned, try using aloe vera gel or moisturizer to relieve the pain.
One way to prevent sun damage is by wearing sunscreen, which should be applied 15-30 minutes before going outside. Make sure to reapply every two hours, and always apply sunscreen before bug repellent to get all the benefits from both products.
It is important to prevent sun damage because it can lead to skin cancer. White people are most at risk to develop skin cancer, but everyone should take the same level of precautionary measures. If you notice any unusual or changing moles on your skin, which can be an early sign of skin cancer, contact your doctor.
3. Stay Hydrated
In the extreme summer heat, it is important to stay hydrated. Adults should drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, which is equivalent to eight 8-ounce glasses of water or four single-use plastic water bottles. Children under the age of 9 should drink at least the same number of 8-ounces glasses as their age (e.g., a 5-year-old needs at least five 8-ounce glasses).
Flavored beverages, fruits, and vegetables also contribute to your daily water intake. Try implementing the following practices into your daily routine to ensure that you and your family drink enough water:
- Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere you go. Not only will the act of carrying the water bottle serve as a reminder to drink more water, but it is also more environmentally friendly than buying plastic bottles.
- Use fruit-infused waters as a replacement for sugary drinks. This tasty option is great for young children who are at greater risk of dehydration.
Signs of dehydration are similar in adults and children, including dizziness, thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, and infrequent urination. Look out for these symptoms in yourself and your family throughout the summer.
4. Stay Cool
Exposure to extreme heat can lead to cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and aggravated symptoms of pre-existing conditions. Avoid extreme heat exposure by staying indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which are peak heat and humidity hours. If you have to go outside during those times, walk in the shade and wear a hat and light-colored clothing. Don’t forget to wear a mask, too!
Although the heat makes wearing masks uncomfortable, they’re essential in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Buy or make masks from breathable materials and carry extras for when you sweat through your mask to reduce discomfort.
Public pools are usually a summer staple for staying cool, though openings have been delayed this year because of the pandemic. Here is the latest on local pools:
- DC pools will reopen with limited capacity in the city’s Phase Three of reopening. Check here for updates.
- PG County pools are open with reservations required. Learn more.
- Montgomery County pools are open with reservations required. Learn more.
More specifics for pool and splash park re-openings in the region and can be found here.
Indoor spaces can also become too hot if you don’t have air conditioning, so local cooling centers are another way to beat the heat. Learn more DC cooling centers here and Prince George’s (PG) County cooling centers here. Cooling centers are not currently available in Montgomery County, but check here for updates.
5. Stay Healthy
If you have delayed your medical or dental care over the past few months because of the pandemic, now is a good time to catch up on your health and bring in your children for their back-to-school visits. At Mary’s Center, the protection of our staff and participants continues to be our top priority, and we have extensive measures in place at our health centers to ensure safe in-person appointments.
We reopened dental services in early July, including our brand new dental suite in our Silver Spring location! We also have both in-person and virtual medical appointments available in DC and Maryland. Find the latest updates on our services and procedures here, and make an appointment here.
Now get out there and enjoy the rest of summer!
Thank you to Rosalia Turcios for contributing to this post.