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Common-sense summer health, safety strategies offered

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Eric Galatas

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(Colorado News Connection) As a changing climate exposes Coloradans to more days of dangerously high temperatures, health experts are offering common-sense summer safety strategies that can help reduce the risk of injury or illness.

Tawnya Selby, a certified personal trainer at Loveland Planet Fitness, said summer is a great time to get outdoors. Whether you are digging in the garden or hiking up 14ers, make sure you are staying cool and drinking enough water.

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"Because we're drier in Colorado, you get dehydrated faster. So drink four ounces of water per the 15 minutes that you are outdoors. So about 16 ounces an hour," she explained.

Experts report last summer was the hottest in more than 2,000 years in the Northern Hemisphere, and Colorado is expected to experience above-average heat in 2024.

Selby said wear a hat, sunglasses and clothes that can protect you from the sun's powerful rays at altitude. If your skin is exposed, use sunscreen. People with chronic health conditions and those aged 65 or older can be at greater risk. Signs of overheating can include headaches, nausea or dizziness.

Dr. Donna O'Shea with United Healthcare said it's especially important to keep an eye on kids. Because their internal cooling systems aren't fully developed, some symptoms may be missed. But she says getting children outside and away from screens is important for eye health.

"Children who spend most of their time on a smartphone or computer have an 80 percent higher risk of developing nearsightedness," she continued.

Children should always wear life jackets when in boats or near bodies of water, but keep in mind that flotation devices are not a substitute for adult supervision. Selby said it's also a good idea to check with your physician if you feel like this is the year for a bucket-list adventure, such as tackling the rim-to-rim hike across the Grand Canyon.

"And if you need to work up to that, then come into the gym and work with a trainer. And we will help you get to that fitness level that you need to be at to go do your activity that you want to do," Selby explained.