When the weather is warm and sunny, most Americans head outside— but enjoying the great outdoors isn’t all fun and games. Between protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays and navigating your family safely to your campsite, outdoor activities can come with a few health risks you should be aware of this summer.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, recently sat down with lifestyle and wellness expert Bahar Takhtehchian to discuss some of this year’s summer safety tools.
Hammering a beach umbrella into the sand isn’t the easiest task. Add a gust of wind, and your sun-protecting shade could be barreling down the beach at speeds of 20 mph and more.
Personal injuries from fly-away umbrellas are rare but possible. Some estimates suggest 2,800 umbrella-related injuries requiring emergency hospital care will happen in 2015. In fact, a day at the beach turned into a $200,000 settlement for one Manhattan woman who was injured after the wind blew a beach umbrella into her head at Robert Moses State Park. But you can avoid injury and any potential legal ramifications by properly setting your umbrella in the sand— or with the help of a Beachbub.
“This is a cool gadget that you fill the bottom up with sand. And because you're filling it with sand, it gives the structure a lot more strength to stay up,” Takhtehchian told FoxNews.com. “And when you're done and you're ready to go home, you just dump the sand out, pack it all up and you're good to go.”
The company says the Beachbub anchoring device is wind tested to 35 mph and has a 50 Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating.
Beachbub all-in-one package: Available at: www.beachbub.com Price: $79.95
If there’s one thing you can’t fully avoid this summer, it’s the sun. To protect against UVA and UVB rays that can cause DNA damage and increase your skin cancer risk, slathering on a good layer of sunscreen at the beginning of your day is good, but it’s not good enough. The American Cancer Society suggests reapplying sunscreen every two hours, or more if you’re in and out of the water or sweating.
To help figure out when it’s time to reapply sunscreen, a melanoma survivor and beauty expert, Kerry Lynn Spindler, developed Sundicators, UV-monitoring wristbands. When exposed to the sun, Sundicators will change color when the wearer needs to reapply sunscreen or to get out of the sun.
“You wear [them] around your wrist. And it's great for kids because you need to kind of manage their sun time,” Takhtehchian said.
The waterproof bracelets are designed to work in chlorine pools, lakes and the ocean.
Sundicators 5-Pack: Available at www.sundicators.com Price: $7.99
The Cabana Boy stick is another sun safety tool that will help make sure you don’t miss a spot when applying sunscreen— or when you don’t have a ‘cabana boy’ to rub it on. Just snap in a full-size spray sunscreen into the wand, push the nozzle on the handle and start covering your body with at least SPF 30, which keeps out about 97 percent of all incoming UVB rays.
“This is something that's going to help you apply sunscreen to parts of your body that are hard to reach— so your back, the back of your legs, your shoulders,” Takhtehchian said.
Cabana Boy: Available at www.my-cabanaboy.com Price: $9.99
Here’s an innovative way to protect your skin against UV rays when you’re lounging poolside. UV levels can fluctuate throughout the day, sometimes due to cloud coverage, time of day and water reflection. The LilyPad follows UV radiations your pool is exposed to so you can make healthy choices about sun protection or when to stay out of the pool. The small heart-shaped device floats at the top of a pool, and sends users real-time UV index and pool water temperature to your smartphone or tablet via the Lilypad app.
“It tells you if the exposure is high throughout the day [and] if the exposure is low,” Takhtehchian said. “And when you hook this up through your smartphone, you fill out a quick profile about what your skin tone is, and it tells if, based on your personal skin tone, if you need to get out of the sun, or if you can stay in it for a little bit longer.”
LilyPad: Available at www.poolsmart.me Price: $79.99
Sun rays aren’t the only thing parents need to worry about at the pool this summer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4. But now there is a tool to ease your fears and create a safer swimming environment for families. The iSwimband is a wearable drowning detection system that alerts parents on their smartphones via the iSwimband app if a child falls in the water or if a swimmer is submerged for too long.
“This is a big, important item,” Dr. Manny Alvarez told FoxNews.com. “I remember my little kids when they were young, and I built a pool when they were like 2, how petrified I was all the time making sure that everybody was around because accidents do happen.”
The iSwimband can be worn on the wrist by non-swimmers or on goggles strap by swimmers.
iSwimband: Available at www.iswimband.com Price: $59.99
Americans heading to their favorite campsites will want to keep pesky bugs and mosquitos away from their family fun. Mosquitno ankle bracelets are citronella infused, non-toxic, and can repel bugs for up to 120 hours. Instead of dosing on smelly and often chemical-laden bug sprays, this easy-to-wear anklet is all natural and DEET free.
“It's kind of annoying to put bug-spray on, but you need to protect yourself,” Takhtehchian said. “This is an alternative you put on your ankle.”
Mosquitno: Anklets available at (800-336-2026), wristbands at www.mosquitnoband.com Price: $3.99
Hiking in the wilderness can be dangerous on many levels, but one major risk is getting lost. Having a trustworthy GPS system can make all the difference when you’ve lost your way and the sun is setting. Garmin’s latest Fenix 3 GPS watch can help you trek safely.
“It has a cool system called Live Track, so let's say you're hiking in the mountains by yourself, you can hook this up to your wife's phone and she can know where you are [in real-time] so if you don't come back in time she can come find you,” Takhtehchian said.
The watch also records a GPS tracking log to create a basic ‘bread crumb trail’ as you hike so you can get back where you started or to your campsite without hesitation. Like most of Garmin’s products, the watch includes activity trackers for running, swimming, cycling, skiing and hiking.
Fēnix 3: Available at garmin.com/fenix Price: $499.99
Backpacking along scenic trails may also land you in areas that aren’t always near a water source. The LifeStraw portable water bottle can assist hikers with safe drinking water when they are on-the-go.
“You can actually take river water, or water from a pond and it automatically filters it [through the straw], so you can drink it immediately,” Takhtehchian explained.
The built-in filter system removes 99.99 percent of waterborne bacteria including E.coli and salmonella as well as waterborne protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
LifeStraw Go: Available at www.Buylifestraw.com Price: $34.95
Road trip tools
With a backseat full of eager kids, no one wants to further delay a long road trip to a vacation spot. Reliable GPS devices can ensure your driver won’t get lost, but if you’re traveling through tree-lined hills, your cellular signal strength may not hold up. The weBoost Drive 4G-X can help give travelers a stronger signal on the road.
“It helps your phone work in those remote areas, it helps your data work so you can send texts, and it helps your GPS system work,” Takhtehchian said. “For people that travel a lot or go on big road trips, it can really help you stay safe on the road.”
The company says it can extend your service range up to 60 percent farther than other boosters on the market and works on all cellular-connected devices in your car, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
weBoost Drive 4G-X: Available at www.weboost.com Price: $479.99
Keep your family safe on your next outing with essential roadside emergency tools like the Cobra JumPack. Small enough to fit in your glove compartment or purse, the portable power pack has enough power to jump-start most cars multiple times on a single charge.
“You know those situations where your car battery suddenly isn't working,” Takhtehchian said. “This helps to jump-start your car instantaneously, and it also helps to charge your phone, digital camera, or anything else that you have lying around the car that needs a charge as well.”
The JumPack also features a built-in LED flashlight with a strobe and S.O.S function for emergencies.
Cobra JumPack: Available at www.cobra.com Price: $129.95