Top tips for Oregon summer adventurers

Adventuring in Oregon can do wonders for your mind, body and spirit—if you plan ahead for health risks in today’s changing climate.

Whether your plan is to lounge in a local park or set off trekking the far-flung places, we wish you awe, bliss and delight!

Before you go, know this: today’s summer hazards are different than they were a generation ago. Climate change and ozone depletion have changed the nature of bug bites, sun exposure, allergies and asthma.

A little precaution can go a long way to keep these hazards from putting a damper on your fun.

Take bug bites seriously. 
Ticks and mosquitos carrying disease are less common in Oregon than in many regions—but that trend is changing. Read more about lyme disease, and how to prevent it, here. 

Light-colored long sleeve clothing may be your best bet against bug bites of all kinds. Insect repellents are also an important tool, but use them with caution!

  • Use the most effective repellant that is also the least toxic.  A study of bug repellents was recently published by National Public Radio.
  • More is not better! DEET at 10% is effective for two hours; DEET at 24% works for 5 hours—and applying more, or more often, does not work better. Concentrations over 30% are not recommended.
  • Apply repellent to the outside of your clothes and exposed skin only. Use your hands, not spray, to apply to your face.
  • No repellent is approved for use on babies under 2 months.

Take sunburn seriously. Our ozone layer, which protects people from harmful UV radiation, will take a couple more decades to recover from harm caused by ozone-depleting chemicals. In the meantime, here are some practical sun tips:

  • Know what to expect. Look up the UV index, and if it’s high, consider sitting in the shade from 10 am – 2 pm.
  • Hats, uv-screening glasses and long sleeves may be the best sun protection.
  • For bare skin, the best advice is to slather on sunscreen with plenty, and to do it often. Those sensitive to chemicals should avoid fragrance, oxybenzone, nano-particles, and vitamin A. Check out EWG’s list of safe and effective sunscreens.

Check the air forecast. On a hot, still day, Oregon’s air can be hard to breathe, especially for kids and people with lung disease.

Recognize toxic algae. Oregon’s pubic health officials, charged with monitoring algae in water that could harm human health, offer this advice: Don’t go in water that is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red. That’s good advice for you and the kids, and your dog, too!

Read more about toxic algae in our drinking water.

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