Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, and with it comes all those warm weather activities that make summer great: Sunshine, baseball, swimming, barbeques, summer trips, the great outdoors. Bring it on!
But wait! Summer brings with it a crowded handful of its own health hazards—sunburn, bug bites, heat-related ailments, dehydration, unexpected visitors who overstay their welcome. (OK, I didn’t mean that…)
I love summer. I LOVE having the kids home and friends and family coming to visit—and visiting them as well. I love the longer evenings and all the fresh produce and meals outdoors. I love the outdoor sports and activities that are so much more prevalent in the summer. I enjoy the yard, and mowing my grass, and that fresh mown grass smell. I love the abundance of green all around us.
But summer has its own set of risks. Sunburn is a very real health issue. Some bugs that bite carry diseases. Not all the food taken to a picnic is still good to eat six hours later.
And there are more serious issues as well—boating accidents go up in the summer, along with swimming-related accidents and problems. Mower injuries are seen in our Emergency Departments. The increased miles on the road lead to increased risks of travel-related injuries.
And yes, friends can overstay—or overstep—their boundaries. Vacations can turn into family feuding, neighbors have been known to disagree over degrees of lawn care, and the letters containing rejection notices are usually more frequent than the ones with acceptances and scholarships.
Life is complicated. A sunny summer doesn’t mean a carefree summer. If anything, summer is more demanding, not less. It’s a time to get out of the comfort zone and do something different. It’s a time to explore and eat new food and stay up late and watch old movies. It’s a time to renew relationships and sort them out, as well.
I love summer. I’ve got my shades and my sunscreen and an optimistic disposition towards all of its charms right here in my beach bag. But I’m also aware of the possibilities of bites and burns and unexpected harms. There is an old Latin saying that summer fun seekers have been saying to each other since at least the 16th century: Praemonitus, Praemunitus. Forewarned is forearmed. Or, as we say it now, “Bring it on.”