It’s the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer.
Here are tips from consumer organizations and government agencies to help you have a safe Memorial Day and safe activities all summer long as you enjoy great weather and being outdoors:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, wide brimmed hats, and sunglasses as the first line of defense for a healthy day in the sun.
- Take an umbrella or canopy if you’re going to the lake or beach. If you’re planning a picnic, consider sitting under a tree.
- Apply sunscreen even if you’re not planning to spend all day outside. EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens can help you find the right sunscreen, with information about ingredients, SPF, and lists of the best-rated SPF products.
- Keep in mind that the best sunscreen and SPF products will protect against UVA and UVB radiation, don’t include vitamin A, and will have an SPF between 15 and 50.
- Check the UV Index before heading out. While ultraviolet radiation usually peaks midday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the UV Index can provide more specific information about your location to help you avoid the harshest rays.
- See EWG’s Food Scores to find nutritious options at the grocery store. The Healthy Living app lets you access this information on your phone.
- Eat five to nine fruits and vegetables a day, regardless of whether it’s conventionally grown or organic. If you have questions about produce, the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce can help you lower your pesticide intake.
- Try replacing items on the Dirty Dozen list with other nutritious fruits and vegetables on the Clean Fifteen list, such as avocados, sweet corn, or pineapple.
- Chose meat that’s free of antibiotics and hormones. If you aren’t sure how to find antibiotic-free meat, look for products certified with a USDA Organic seal.
- Look out for nitrates and nitrites. These food additives in meats such as bacon and hot dogs are linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer. They’ll usually appear as sodium nitrate on meat packaging, and EWG’s Meat Eater’s Guide can help you figure out labels and find safe, sustainable meat to barbecue.
- Remember to reduce meat consumption. Most Americans eat too much meat-based protein while not eating enough plant- and fish-based protein. Think about including non-meat protein alternatives in your diet. Bean chili, fish tacos, and edamame are healthy protein options.
- Protect yourself and your family from insect bites. They can spread viruses and diseases, such as the West Nile virus and Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a significant increase in tickborne disease since 2004. First avoid, cover, then apply skin products. To avoid, stay away from areas with bugs. Nets and fans can help keep bugs out of outdoor eating areas and tents, and full-coverage clothing will help keep most of your skin off-limits.
- Check out EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents to find the safest options. Be sure to wash your hands after applying repellent and to wash any skin and clothing that was in contact with it at the end of the day.
- Protect infants younger than six months old by covering baby carriers and strollers with fine netting. Insect repellent isn’t safe for them.
- Check yourself and your children for ticks every night when you’re in the outdoors. If you find a tick, check out the CDC’s guide for correctly removing the bugs.
- Read CDC guidelines on gatherings to make sure you are staying safe from the covid-19 virus.
Swimming in open water
- Be aware swimming in open water – lakes, rivers, ponds, and the ocean – is more difficult than in a pool. People tire faster and get into trouble more quickly. Also, in the spring, rivers are often high and swift from rains and snow melt, and people don’t realize on a hot day that the cold water can be dangerous.
- Don’t overload the boat when boating and wear a life jacket. Many people have drowned when they fell overboard while fishing, hunting, or pulling up a crab pot.
- Stay sober when on or in the water. Alcohol and other drugs increase the effects of weather, temperature, and wave action.
Swimming in pools
- Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa, and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water. Assign an adult, who isn’t using a phone, to monitor each child.
- Teach children basic water safety tips.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Share safety instructions with family, friends, and neighbors.
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
- Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.
- Understand the basics of life saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency.
- Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and spa, and use self-closing and self-latching gates. Ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
- Install door alarms and always use them if your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing pools or spas.
- Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water.
- Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers.
- Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order.
- Do a safety check before lighting the grill. Inspect the hoses on a gas grill for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.
- Clean the grease trap to ensure that it’s clean to reduce the risk of flare-ups and grease fires.
- Use grills outside only in a well-ventilated area. Never use a grill indoors, or in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that will burn.
- Never leave a grill unattended, and keep children away from the grill area.
- Prevent stray wire grill brush strands from ending up in your food. Clean your grill with a ball of aluminum foil or nylon brushes, instead of wire grill brushes.
- Check USDA and FDA’s websites for tips on cooking food safely.
- Gear-up before riding. This means putting on a helmet meant for your activity. When bicycling, wear a helmet that complies with CPSC’s federal safety standard for bicycle helmets. In addition to a helmet, wear elbow and knee pads while riding scooters and skateboards.
- Ride bicycles in the direction of traffic, obey traffic signs and signals, and stay alert.
- Wear additional safety gear when riding ATVs and ROVs, including a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear, such as eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts.
- Don’t drive ATVs or ROVs on paved surfaces. Ride on designated trails and at a safe speed.
- Use age-appropriate vehicles. Riders younger than 16 should only drive age-appropriate, youth-model ATVs, never adult models or ROVs.
Other summer activities
- Check for hot playground equipment surfaces before letting your children play.
- Dress properly when mowing the lawn with substantial shoes, long pants, and fitted clothes.
- Keep children away from the mowing area, and always be on the lookout for children who may have walked into the mowing area.
- Spike your beach umbrella pole into the sand, and firmly rock it back and forth until it’s buried about 2 feet into the sand and is tilted into the wind to keep it from blowing away and injuring someone.
- Don’t leave children, older adults, or pets in hot cars.
- Check SaferProducts.gov to see if any of the products in your house or garage have been recalled.
Have a great summer, and remember safety as you plan and enjoy fun activities.