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Look after yourself this summer

Blog post | 13 Dec 2021

For many people, summer is a chance to relax, recharge and push the boat out (sometimes literally). But hot weather and BBQs come with risks.

Follow these handy, practical tips to ensure you enjoy the sun and snags, while avoiding any alcohol-related misadventure or dodgy prawn issues.

  • Barbeque like a pro. Avoid food poisoning by keeping BBQ meat and veggies cold and covered until ready to be used, advises Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Use different plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods; and cook all meat for long enough for the juices to run clear. Don't keep leftovers if they've been out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.

  • Don't drink and dive. Many people spend summer days at the beach or in the pool. According to Royal Life Saving, between July 2020 and June 2021, 294 people lost their lives to drowning. Adult men are far more likely to drown than women, and alcohol — and illicit drugs — is considered a major risk factor.

    Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination and delaying reaction time. It's best to avoid drinking around water and swimming or taking a boat out under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Never go in or on the water alone, advises Royal Life Saving.

  • Watch your little swimmers. Even if your child is a confident swimmer, they must be supervised by an adult when near water — even shallow paddling pools or baths. Among children aged under 14, most drownings in 2020/21 occurred in swimming pools, lakes and rivers, and in most cases drowning occurred when the child was swimming, playing or fell into the water.

  • Watch out for bites and stings. An Australian summer wouldn't be complete without flies and mosquitoes buzzing around while you're enjoying the outdoors. Bites and stings from insects aren't just annoying, but are sometimes dangerous. Learn how to tell the difference between a bite or a sting and how to treat them.

  • Count your drinks. It's easy to consume more alcohol than you realise, especially if you're at the pub. Drinks served in bars or restaurants often contain more than 1 standard drink. (A 'standard drink' is supposed to be a can or bottle of mid-strength beer, 100ml of wine or a 30ml shot of spirits.)

    Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults drink no more than 4 standard drinks per day, and no more than 10 standard drinks per week. Set yourself a drinks limit for the day and stick to it.

    For more advice, check out healthdirect's top 7 tips for safe drinking.

  • Protect yourself from the sun — even if it's cloudy. According to the Cancer Council, you can get sun damage on windy, cloudy and cool days. Sun damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not the temperature, so an overcast summer day can have similar UV levels to a sunny summer day. In fact, UV radiation not only penetrates some clouds but can be more intense due to reflection off the clouds. Read more about sun protection here.

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