Sometimes it feels like summers are awfully short here in Iowa City, IA. We only have a few months of nice, warm weather before the winter winds start to blow, the leaves change colors, and we have to worry about that first snowfall. So we Iowans are determined to enjoy these warm months!
Of course, when things get warm in Iowa, they get warm. This summer has been hot–no doubt about it. So whatever your summer activity of choice is, we have some tips designed to help you enjoy yourself safely.
Safety Tips for State Parks
Iowa is home to over 80 state parks and recreation areas. So whether you’re going for a hike at Ryerson’s Woods State Preserve or planning a swim at Lake Macbride State Park, there’s no shortage of fun you can have. Some summer safety tips for state parks include:
- Be sure to wear sunscreen: While many state parks are wooded (and the tree canopy does provide some cover), there’s still plenty of sun – especially in the peak of summer. Wearing sunscreen can prevent sunburn and lower your skin cancer risks.
- Drink (and bring) plenty of water: The last thing you want is to be caught on a hike and run out of water–especially on a hot day. A general rule of thumb is to drink 1 liter per hour of hiking, but you may want to increase that when it’s hot and sunny.
- Wear bug spray: Mosquitoes and ticks are more than a nuisance: they can spread disease. Wearing bug spray isn’t foolproof, but it can help lower your risk of bites, ticks and mosquitoes alike.
This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with other typical hiking safety tips: make sure your cell phone is fully charged, familiarize yourself with your route, and so on.
Safety Tips for Swimming
One sure way to beat the summer heat is to go for a swim! Whether you’re heading to a friend’s backyard pool or to the City Park pool, some general swimming safety tips can help make sure your swim is a fun one.
- Never swim alone: Make sure you have someone around who is also a strong swimmer. This is especially true when it’s quite warm out. Even strong swimmers can faint in the water.
- Wear sunscreen: You might think that the water will protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. But this would be inaccurate. Avoid sunburn and wear plenty of sunscreen.
- Avoid pool drains: Usually, nothing bad happens. But occasionally, pool drains can cause severe injuries. Best to steer clear of them.
- Avoid breath-holding games: Playing breath-holding games can be quite dangerous, especially because it’s hard to know when someone is in legitimate distress. So it’s best to avoid this type of play altogether.
You can also consider taking swim lessons (it’s never too late to learn how to swim)!
How to Stay Safe at the Iowa State Fair
Iowa has tons of outdoor events, but the state fair is one of the most popular. (Sure, it’s a two-hour drive from Iowa City – but it’s worth it!) Because it always occurs in the middle of August (when it’s usually quite hot outside), there are some safety tips that can keep heat stroke from ruining your fun:
- Periodically seek out shade: Give your body a chance to cool down throughout the day. This can help prevent overheating.
- Wear light-colored clothing: Dark clothing will help attract and retain the sun’s energy; in other words, you’ll get hotter. Wearing light-colored clothing can help keep you cool longer.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water: You might notice this is something of a running theme. Your body’s natural cooling mechanisms depend on getting enough water to function properly. Keep an eye out for the early signs of dehydration, such as headaches.
Sometimes staying safe and active means addressing injuries or illnesses before activities. For personalized advice, talk to your provider about ways you can ensure your summer is safe and fun–no matter what activities you’re looking forward to!