Safety tips for enjoying the outdoors this summer

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(ARA) - Heading out for an afternoon in the park this summer? Few things beat whiling away the warm summer hours immersed in a good book or your favorite magazine. Before you spread out the blanket or set up your favorite folding chair, you should be aware of some dangerous outdoor health factors.

While your body is relaxing, the sun and other natural elements could cause irritation and even harm to your skin and eyes. It's important to make certain you prepare for your great afternoon of reading at the pool, beach or even in your own backyard with these precautions:

Eye strain - As we age, it often becomes more difficult to read regular print. Carrying a pair of readers can help prevent eye strain. But when outside, traditional readers don't help protect your eyes from the sun. Usually, it's just the opposite, and they magnify the glare of the sun. Coppertone invisible bi-focal Sunreaders, available through Select-A-Vision and at Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond and Harris Teeter, conveniently tackle both problems. These Sunreaders provide the best sun protection blocking both UVA and UVB rays on both the bottom lens portion, which contains the reading magnification spot, as well as the rest of the lens that functions as a safe sunglass. They also have a stylish curvature that adds additional protection from side light.

Skin damage - Curling up in summer sun can make you feel warm and cozy, but a potential sunburn can turn a fun afternoon of reading a romance into a painful evening. To enjoy your reading afternoon, find a shady spot for your read-a-thon and apply a good dose of sunscreen before settling down with your book. Also, before you head out, consider donning sun-protective clothing and bring along a shade hat to keep the sun's glare off your face.

Dehydration - The old adage is that if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Laying out during the warm summer months - on the beach or in your own backyard - can quickly lead to a case of dehydration. Keep a water source nearby like a water bottle or canteen, or enjoy a summery drink like lemonade to keep hydrated. Avoid alcohol, which could increase the risk of dehydration.

Bug bites - Sitting still for too long outside can make you a magnet for bugs. Protect your skin with insect repellant, protective clothing and even a spritz bottle filled with water. An added bonus is the spritz bottle can help cool you down when the sun gets too hot.

The beautiful outdoors are tempting, but it's a good idea to be prepared for the dangers they offer. Keep these safety factors in mind the next time you head to the beach, the local pool or a nearby park for a little bit of peace, relaxation and a good story.