Enjoy The Sizzle Of Summer Festivals And Events Without Getting Burned

Photo courtesy of SMDHU's FB page

Good music, delicious food and time enjoyed with friends and family at summer festivals and outdoor events are often highlights of the season. From staying cool, preventing sunburns and stings to getting home safely after the party, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has reminders and tips to protect your health while enjoying the gathering.

Be safe in the sun

Hot, sunny weather is often in the forecast during summer events and while you may remember to wear your sunglasses and a hat, there are other things you need to keep in mind to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses.

  1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; don’t wait until you feel thirsty as this is a sign that your body is already becoming dehydrated.
  2. Wear light-coloured loose-fitting clothing and a hat, and be sure to apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more to prevent a painful sunburn and skin damage.
  3. Take to the shade when the sun is out.

Fight the bite

The grassy fields and campgrounds where summer events are frequently held are also natural tick and mosquito habitats. More than just an annoyance, bites from blacklegged ticks can transmit Lyme disease and mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus. You can reduce your risk of exposure by:

  1. Avoiding or limiting your time outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  2. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants, shoes with closed toes, and tuck your pant cuffs into your socks.
  3. Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin that is registered for use in Canada, read the label, and follow directions. Apply only to exposed skin and/or clothing.
  4. Do a full body tick check on yourself and your family (including pets) after being outdoors.
  5. If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible and check the rest of your body for any more. Once removed, visit eTick.ca to identify the type of tick and follow the guidance provided.
  6. If you develop any symptoms associated with Lyme disease, be sure to speak with your health care provider.

Use alcohol and substances safely

You don’t need to drink alcohol or use cannabis to enjoy yourself at a party or an event! The safest option is to not use these substances but you can reduce the risk of potential harms if you do choose to consume.

  1. Drink and use in moderation and understand the health and safety risks by checking Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health and Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines.
  2. Have a plan to get home safely. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi or use a ride share service to protect yourself and others on the road.
  3. Never drive when you are impaired by alcohol, cannabis and/or drugs, and do not allow your family members or friends to drive while impaired.

Prevent overdoses

At large gatherings it is important to watch for signs of an opioid overdose, including a person who is not moving, has slow or no breath, is making gurgling sounds or snoring, has blue/purple lips and nails, or has cold and clammy skin. If you think someone is having an overdose, call 911 immediately, give the person Naloxone if it’s available, and stay with the person until the ambulance arrives.

Prevent STIs and unintended pregnancy

Hot and steamy can refer to more than the weather, and some people may choose to ‘hook up’ while at an event. Remember to protect yourself against a sexually transmitted infection or an unwanted pregnancy.

  1. Use condoms or other barriers every time you have sex.
  2. Store condoms at room temperature in a dry place. Extreme moisture, temperature (such as in a car) or direct sunlight can damage your condoms making them ineffective.
  3. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) may be available at your local health unit office, after-hours clinics, pharmacies and your healthcare provider, and can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex.
  4. If you are exposed to the blood or body fluids of another person, get assessed as soon as possible by a health care provider for risk of a potential blood-borne infection.

For more information about how to safely attend summer festivals and events, visit SMDHU’s website or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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