Top 10 Tips for a Safe and Healthy Summer

1. Cover Up!

sun safety One of the best ways to protect yourself from the sun is to cover up.
  • Choose clothing that is loose fitting, tightly woven and lightweight.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim that covers your head, face, ears and neck. Hats like baseball caps won't give you enough protection. Many skin cancers happen on the face and neck. These areas need extra protection.
  • Put sunscreen on your ears, chin and neck even when you’re wearing a hat.

2. Practice safe grilling.

Research shows that cooking meat, poultry and fish at high temperatures may increase your risk of cancer.
  • Marinate meat, poultry and fish before cooking. Studies have shown that marinating these foods can prevent the formation of cancer-causing chemicals. Use an oil-free marinade that contains a strong acid like lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
  • When barbecuing, choose lean cuts of meat, poultry and seafood over higher-fat meats. Trim off visible fat. This will reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that develop from the smoke created by burning fat.
  • Barbecue slowly and keep the food away from the hot coals so that flames are less likely to engulf the food to prevent charring.
  • Try grilling vegetables, veggie burgers and fruit slices. Most experts agree that plant-based foods do not form the cancer-causing substances when cooked at high heat.

3. Get active.

Beautiful summer weather makes it even easier to get outside and get active. Research shows that regular physical activity over your lifetime protects against colon cancer. Physical activity is also one of the best ways to get to and maintain a healthy weight. People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for cancer of the breast, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney, pancreas and uterus.
  • Walk, roller-blade, scooter or cycle to work or school. If you can’t do it all the way, try being active for part of the journey.
  • Swap 30 minutes of television for a 30-minute walk each day.
  • Make play time with your kids physical for everyone. Don’t watch them play – play tag, soccer or ball hockey with them.
  • Turn physical activity into a social event. Go to the park with a group of friends and a Frisbee. Invite the neighbours and their kids over to play ball hockey or basketball.
sun safety

4. Wear your sunglasses.

Sunglasses can help prevent damage to your eyes by blocking a large amount of UV rays. Keep your shades on and make sure your children wear them too. Sunglasses don't have to be expensive to be effective, but make sure you choose ones with:
  • even shading
  • medium to dark lenses (grey, brown or green tint)
  • UVA and UVB protection

5. Take advantage of the season’s fresh produce.

A diet that includes a variety of vegetables and fruit instead of higher-fat, higher-calorie foods can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. Research shows that maintaining a healthy body weight reduces your risk of developing cancer.
  • Buy packages of pre-cut carrots, peppers, leafy greens or mixed fruit to make life a little easier if you’re rushing to make lunches each morning.
  • Visit a farmers’ market and buy fresh-picked vegetables and fruit.
  • Liven up the food you eat with crunch and colour. Put tomatoes and cucumber in sandwiches, berries in yogurt and cereal, or extra vegetables in pasta, rice, stir-fries and soups.
  • Add a side salad at lunch. Pack cut vegetable sticks with a low-fat dip.
  • Try a new vegetable or fruit every week.

6. Use sunscreen properly.

Sunscreen absorbs UV rays and prevents them from penetrating the skin. Sunscreens are available with a sun protection factor (SPF) ranging from 2 to at least 100.
  • Use an SPF of 15 or higher, and if you work outdoors or are planning to be outside most of the day, use an SPF 30.
  • Make sure the product offers both UVA and UVB protection (usually labelled “broad-spectrum”).
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go out to allow the active ingredients to soak into your skin. Don’t forget your ears, nose, neck, any bald spots and the tops of your feet.
  • Use an SPF 15 sunscreen lip balm and reapply when needed. Your lips need protection too.
  • Follow the instructions for reapplying your sunscreen, especially after swimming or sweating.

7. Don’t let your kids take a break from healthy eating habits.

For families with younger children, the summer signals a change from the regular routine. But, just because school is out, that doesn’t mean your kids should take a break from their healthy eating habits. It’s important for children to eat well in order to get all the nutrients they need to grow and develop. Eating well and being active every day can also help kids have a healthy weight.
  • Set regular times for meals and healthy snacks. Kids tend to snack more when there’s no real schedule and are more likely to reach for sugary or salty treats.
  • Plan to eat at least one meal together as a family every day. If this seems impossible with a busy activity schedule, be creative. Try a picnic after a game or practice. Or set aside one night a week as family dinner night.
  • Encourage your child to eat slowly. When we eat too quickly, our body thinks it needs more food to feel full.
  • Remind kids to drink fluids, preferably water, throughout the day. Young children are at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated. Save drinks like pop and juice for special occasions.

8. Make your own shade.

sun safety Getting too much sun can happen when you least expect it. You could be sitting in your backyard, gardening or watching your kids playing. You can still be exposed to UV rays even if there are scattered clouds overhead.
  • Planting deciduous trees that are native to Canada will provide excellent sun protection during the summer months. As the trees grow, they provide large thick coverings of leaves that will block UV rays.
  • Structures, like a garden tent, are an easy and cost-effective way to add shade to a garden area.
  • Adding a retractable awning or canopy to the side of your house is also an easy way to add shade. This allows you to adjust the protection you want depending on the sun’s location.

9. Cut back on alcohol.

For many of us, summer brings backyard barbeques, lazy afternoons on the patio or camping trips with friends. But, you may be surprised to learn that drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon and rectum, esophagus, larynx, liver, mouth and pharynx. Research shows that drinking any type of alcohol – beer, wine or spirits – raises your risk of cancer.

The less alcohol you drink, the more you reduce your risk. If you do choose to drink alcohol, keep it to less than 1 drink a day for women and less than 2 drinks a day for men.

10. Protect your kids from the sun.

Children spend a lot more time outside than adults and they need to be protected from the sun’s rays.
  • Keep babies out of direct sunlight. Use clothing that covers their arms and legs and don’t forget a hat. Keep them protected in a covered stroller, under an umbrella or in the shade.
  • Try to keep toddlers and children out of the sun, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the rays are at their strongest, or any time of the day when the UV Index is 3 or more.
  • Send your kids to play in protective clothing, such as a loose-fitting t-shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. Don’t forget about protecting their shoulders and necks as these can get easily burned.
  • Provide shade in your play area. Try a large umbrella if there are no trees.
  • Always apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher to your kids at least 20 minutes before they go outside. Reapply often and don’t forget their nose, ears, cheeks and tops of their feet.
  • If they’re playing in or near water, make sure the sunscreen is water-resistant and reapply often. Also make sure they put on dry clothing after playing in water as wet clothing can lose up to half of its UV protection.