Temperatures are rising and the sun is shining, so it’s time to head for the great outdoors! But before you dive into the nearest lake to cool off, or pull out your tent from the basement for an impromptu camping trip, take a minute or two to think about summer health and safety.

With so much focus on the risks of spending too much time in the sun, we often forget the other hazards the great Canadian outdoors can throw at us. To help jog your memory, we’ve compiled our own checklist of vacation advice for summer 2018.

Camping with caution

Camping is on the rise in Canada. Thanks in part to social media, more travelers are being inspired to get outdoors and explore. If you’re sleeping under canvas this summer, here are a few tips to ensure you and your family stay safe.

  • Food storage and preparation

Remember that food in your camping cooler or RV fridge may spoil more quickly than in your refrigerator back at home. Milk and meat products should always be eaten in the early part of your trip. Also ensure that at night, your cooler and dry food should be sealed up and closed, and preferably stored overnight in a vehicle. Raccoons can easily flip open cooler latches!

  • Cooking safety

Never use a camp stove in a tent or enclosed area. Avoid the build-up of hazardous gases by using it in the open air. Check for fire restrictions or fire bans before building a campfire at your campsite. Only build fires in designated fireplaces to prevent forest fires. Whether you’re using a camp stove, open fire or BBQ, ensure meat is cooked slowly and thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to test the temperature rather than just guessing!

  • Stormy weather

Summertime doesn’t always mean sunshine. Thunderstorms are common as we all know, and in fact, cities in southern Ontario experience the most. If thunderstorms, hail storms, strong winds or a tornado begin to develop while you are camping, move to the closest building or a hard-topped vehicle. If this isn’t possible, seek refuge in a thick stand of trees in the lowest-lying area.

Going wild!

Being outdoors can mean getting up close and personal to a variety of living things (whether we like it or not!)

  • Ticks

Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks. Ticks are commonly found along trail edges, mostly in wooded areas or tall grass frequented by deer. Finding a tick on your skin does not mean you will automatically develop Lyme disease. However, if you notice a tick, you should remove it as soon as possible. Tick removers or tweezers are the best tools, so always carry some with you. If in doubt, seek medical advice.

  • Mosquitoes

Dawn or dusk is the time when mosquitoes are most active, so wear a registered insect repellent to keep them at bay.

  • Wild birds and animals

It’s almost impossible to predict how wildlife will react to us, especially if startled. Never try to approach or feed, or leave food or garbage lying around where wildlife can reach it.

  • Plants

Keep an eye out for irritant plants, like poison ivy, which can cause rashes and allergic reactions when touched. See this website for a list of the ten most commonly found poisonous plants in Canada.

Water warning

Open water has many hidden hazards. Keep safe by following these simple guidelines:

  • Never leave a child unattended in water.
  • Avoid swimming at night and in stormy weather.
  • Avoid ‘swimmer’s itch’ by avoiding warm lakes and ponds, especially the shallower waters. Exposed skin makes a temporary home for parasites that usually prefer ducks, snails, and other wetland animals. These can cause an allergic reaction and a non-contagious rash.
  • Water in streams, rivers and lakes is generally clean and often looks good enough to drink. But don’t. It may contain harmful bacteria.

At the Rexall Pharmacy, our pharmacists are always happy to advise on the best treatments for stings, bites and advise on insect repellants.

Find our Rexall Pharmacy on the Main Floor, AMG London, 230 Victoria Street or, call us at 519 873 1700.

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