How to look after yourself this summer

For many people, summer is a chance to make the most of the outdoors. But hot weather and BBQs come with risks.

Follow these practical tips to enjoy fun summer days, while avoiding mosquito bites, alcohol-related misadventure or dodgy prawns.

Barbeque like a pro. To avoid food poisoning, keep meat and veggies cold and covered until they’re ready to get cooked, advises Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.

Use different plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods. Cook all meat long enough for the juices to run clear. Ditch leftovers if they’ve been out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.

Watch out for bites and stings. An Australian summer wouldn’t be complete without flies and mosquitoes buzzing around. Bites and stings from insects aren’t just annoying but are sometimes dangerous.

Mosquitoes can carry diseases that can make you very sick. The diseases are spread to humans through mosquito bites, including Japanese encephalitis. Learn how to avoid and prevent mosquito bites.

Don’t drink and dive. Many people spend summer days swimming at the local river or beach. According to Royal Life Saving, between July 2021 and June 2022, 339 people lost their lives to drowning. Adult males are far more likely to drown than females.
Pre-existing medical conditions and alcohol are major drowning risk factors. Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination and delaying reaction time. It’s best to not to drink when around water, swimming or taking a boat out. Never go in or on the water alone, advises Royal Life Saving.

Watch your little swimmers. Even if your child is a confident swimmer, an adult must supervise them when near water, including in shallow paddling pools or baths. Among children aged under 15, most drownings in 2021 to 2022 occurred in swimming pools, creeks and rivers. In most cases, drowning occurred when the child fell into the water.

Count your drinks. It’s easy to consume more alcohol than you realise. Drinks served in bars or restaurants often contain more than 1 standard drink. A ‘standard drink’ is supposed to be a can or bottle of mid-strength beer, 100ml of wine or a 30ml shot of spirits.

Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults drink no more than 4 standard drinks per day, and no more than 10 standard drinks per week. Set yourself a drinks limit for the day and stick to it.

For more advice, see top 7 tips for safe drinking.

Protect yourself from the sun — even if it’s cloudy. According to the Cancer Council, you can get sun damage on windy, cloudy and cool days. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not the temperature, causes sun damage.

An overcast summer day can have similar UV levels to a sunny summer day. In fact, UV radiation not only penetrates some clouds but can be more intense due to reflection off the clouds. Read more about sun protection here.