Practicing Outdoor Summer Safety

Contributed by Brandi Fitch


As more individuals become fully vaccinated from COVID-19 and safety guidelines are lifted, community members are excited to start enjoying their summer.  While both children and adults are ready to leave COVID-19 behind them, the CDC is still asking those vaccinated and not vaccinated to follow these guidelines. While the pandemic has been our main focus over the last year, we also need to remember to take necessary precautions during the summer to stay safe from the sun and bugs by using sun block and bug spray.

According to the American Cancer Society, there were approximately 108,420 new cases of skin cancer in 2020. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%. If you have been putting off getting checked out, it’s safe to go back for preventative care and get screened early. Make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself!  Test your knowledge of some common beliefs about skin cancer here.

When heading outdoors, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Use bug spray repellents with 20% or more DEET to prevent mosquito and tick bites that transmit illnesses like Lyme Disease.
  • Avoid contact with ticks by avoiding wooded and brushy areas with high grass and walking in the center of trails.
  • After coming indoors, check your hair and clothing for ticks. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing. Cold and medium temperate water will not kill ticks. Don’t forget to check your pets!
  • Showering within two hours of coming indoors has shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme Disease. Find more information from the CDC on preventing tick bites here. Kids can follow along to a proper step by step tick check dance here.
  • Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ at least 15 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours or 40 minutes when in water.
  • When applying sunscreen, use about 1 oz. (about a handful) to cover your arms, legs, neck and face. Don’t forget about your ears, hands, feet, and underarms!
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses and cover up with long sleeves when outdoors to avoid getting sunburn. Seek shade specifically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Always Spray, play, and repeat!
  • More information on outdoor summer safety from the CDC, including water safety, can be found here.

Find more information on preventing mosquito bites here and on this flyer from the CDC. The American Cancer Society provides an informative infographic on preventing skin cancer here.

If you’re looking for some new and fun activities to participate in over the summer, be sure to check out WellSpan Health’s GO! (Get Outdoors) Program.  This program allows children and caregivers to get outdoors and be physically active this summer by engaging in letterboxing! Participants can find the 15 different pages hidden throughout Franklin County trails and parks to win prizes. Find more information about how to get started here!

You can also check out WellSpan Health’s “Mindfulness Walk” audio to listen to for a more peaceful walk outdoors!

To learn about other recreational assets in Franklin County, such as parks, trails, recreation centers and more, visit the Franklin County Recreational Facilities interactive GIS map here.