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Tips For A Healthier and Safer Summer

Hot weather has arrived, bringing longer days and more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and all that nature has to offer. With a bit of planning, you can make your outdoor and recreational experiences safer and memorable this summer season. Read on for simple tips for protecting your health outdoors or at camp during the warmer months.

When spending time outdoors, we venture into habitats where ticks and mosquitoes thrive. The risks of Lyme disease, spread by blacklegged ticks, and West Nile Virus, carried by certain mosquitoes, are increasing throughout Simcoe Muskoka because of the warmer temperatures brought on by climate change. To decrease your exposure to tick or mosquito-borne illnesses, you can take the following actions:

  • When outdoors in grassy or wooded areas, wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants, shoes with closed toes, and tuck your pant cuffs into your socks. Light coloured clothing makes ticks easier to see.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin. Before using an insect repellent, make sure it is registered in Canada, read the label, and follow directions. If using a spray repellent, be sure to use the product in a well-ventilated area. Apply only to exposed skin and/or clothing - never underneath clothing.
  • Do a full body tick check on yourself and your family (including pets) after being outdoors.
  • If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible and check the rest of your body as there could be more. Once removed, visit to identify the tick and follow the guidance provided. If you develop any symptoms associated with Lyme disease, be sure to speak with your health care provider.


For instructions on doing a tick check and to learn more about Lyme disease, visits our webpage on Lyme Disease and Ticks.

During periods of heat, it's important to take care of your health and find ways to prevent overheating by keeping aware, cool, and connected.

During very hot weather, everyone can get sick from the heat, but some people are at higher risk because of factors such as age, health, available resources, or job. Individuals who may be at greater risk include infants, older adults, pregnant people, people living with chronic health conditions or mental illness, people who live alone, people without access to cooled indoor spaces and people who work or exercise in the heat.

Overexertion will increase the risk of heat exhaustion, dehydration, or heat stroke. Heat illness is preventable by follow these steps to keep aware, cool, and connected:

 Keep Aware

  • Check weather forecasts and heat warnings to know when to take extra care. Use the WeatherCAN app or Call Hello-Weather (1-833-794-3556).
  • Monitor for signs and symptoms of heat illness. If you or others experience these symptoms during hot temperatures, move to cool space and drink water. Heat stroke is a medical emergency! Call 911 if you see these signs and move them to a cool place, apply cold water to the skin, and fan the person as much as possible.


Keep Cool

  • Be sure to drink plenty of water, before you are thirsty.
  • Cool off by taking a cool shower or bath, going for a swim, putting your feet in water, or applying a damp towel to your skin. Take a break from the heat. Spend time in cool places (e.g., in air-conditioned spaces (e.g., library) or shaded parks with lots of trees or water features). Reduce your activity levels and take breaks. When outside, stay in the shade.
  • Keep indoor temperatures below 26 oC. If you have air conditioning, turn it on; even on low, it can help you stay safe.
  • Shut windows and doors if indoor temperatures are comfortable. Draw blinds or curtains to prevent heat from entering homes during the day.
  • Use an electric fan to circulate air during cooler parts of the day.
  • When outside, stay in the shade, wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and reapply sunscreen.


Keep Connected

  • Check in on family, friends, and neighbours, especially those at greater risk to make sure they are safe and cool. Use the heat check-in resource (available in 5 languages).


Heat stroke is a medial emergency! Know the signs and get immediate help if you experience any of the following symptoms of heat-related illness:

  • Heavy sweating, hot and flushed skin
  • Severe cramps in the hands, calves, or feet
  • Fatigue and or feel faint
  • Nausea
  • Headaches or fizziness

High temperatures and humid air can increase air pollution levels, making air quality worse. Check the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) for your location, and follow its recommendations to stay healthy and safe. Extreme heat is usually more dangerous than short-term exposure to poor air quality, so you should prioritize staying cool if you must choose.


Visit SMDHU's pages to learn more about Heat.


Warmer weather also means more exposure to harmful rays from the sun. To avoid heat-related illness such as heat stroke, stay hydrated and look for cool, shaded areas when the sun is out. In extreme heat, some medications may increase your health risk and/or make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions about your medication.

Practice sun safety by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and loose long-sleeved shirts and pants, and by using a broad spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more (and don't forget to reapply a generous amount at least every 2 hours). Remember to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses that protect against both UVA and UVB. Taking these precautions is particularly important during peak sunlight hours (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).


Visit SMDHU's pages to learn more about Sun Safety.

Picnics, barbecues, and outdoor meals are staples of warm-weather recreation, but it's important to take precautions to avoid foodborne illnesses. Older adults, young children, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune system are at greater risk of serious cases of food poisoning.

The following food safety tips will help to ensure you, your family and your friends can enjoy picnics:

Keep Things Clean:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling food.
  • Find out if there is a source of safe drinking water at your destination. If not, bring water for preparation and rinsing hands.
  • Hand sanitizer is great to bring along, but you must ensure your hands are visibly clean prior to use.
  • Pack soap and a cloth for washing and ensure there is a safe source of water available. If tap water is not available, use bottled water or boil untreated water for two minutes before using.
  • Clean all cooking surfaces and utensils with soap and warm water before and after each use. Before packing your cooler, wash it with soap, sanitize with a bleach-water solution, and rinse with cold water.


Keep Raw Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Eggs Separate:

  • Store raw meats, poultry, fish, and eggs separate from other foods to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria. Pack these foods in leak-proof bags at the bottom of your cooler or pack them in a separate cooler.
  • Pack two sets of utensils and use one set for raw meats only.
  • Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing the food will not constantly be opened and closed.


Chill Perishable Foods:

  • Keep all perishable foods cold, at a temperature of 0-4oC. Pack them in an insulated cooler with ice packs, frozen re-usable water bottles, or bags of ice. Be sure to keep your cooler out of the sun.
  • Have enough coolers with ice or frozen gel packs to store perishable foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and salads. Pack foods right from the refrigerator into the coolers.
  • Never leave perishable foods out for more than 1-2 hours.


Cook foods to the appropriate temperature:

  • Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Pack a digital thermometer to check if your food is cooked thoroughly.


Visit SMDHU’s pages to learn more about Food Safety.

Spending time at the beach is a popular summer pastime and can be great for your mental and physical well-being. However, there is the possibility of injury or illness resulting from recreational water use if there is polluted or unsafe conditions. Human illness and infection can be caused by organisms (bacteria, viruses and parasites) that may be in natural bodies of water.

The health unit monitors water safety at several designated public beaches in Simcoe County and Muskoka Region - checking E. coli bacteria levels, and watching for other potential hazards, including potentially toxic blue-green algae.

If you are planning a visit to an area beach, you can check the Beach Advisory section of our website to make sure it's safe for swimming.

 Visit SMDHU's page to learn more about Beach Water Quality.

Swimming and water activities are a fun way to cool off in the hot summer months and can be a part of a healthy and active lifestyle. However, as with any activity risks do exist around the water. Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death for Canadians, and it often happens quickly and silently. It's always best to be cautious and attentive when you , or those you are with , are in or near the water, especially if there are people who don't know how to swim.


Top Tips to be Safe Around Water:

  • Actively supervise your children.
  • Life jackets save lives. Wear one if you don't know how to swim or have some fear of the water. See here for difference between Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and life jackets.
  • If you have a pool, fence it to prevent any harms to wandering toddlers and children.
  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons.
  • Be prepared - learn to swim and know how to do CPR and first aid.


Visit for additional tips and strategies you can use to keep you and your family safe this summer.

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