What Are You Reading?

We thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite books that encourage us to get outdoors!  Fun fact: The idea to start Healthy Parks Healthy Person was inspired by some of the concepts in the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.  Here is a short list of some books we have read, and some that are on our to-read list.  We encourage you to visit your local library or support your local bookstore when searching for these.  Feel free to share YOUR favorite nature-based book with us on social media! 

 

A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

 

Balanced & Barefoot, by Angela Hanscom

 

Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, Evan McGown

 

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

 

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, by Linda McGurk

 

The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams

 

Vitamin N, by Richard Louv

 

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

Summer Safety Tips 101

Summer will be here before we know it! While this summer might look a little different than previous summers due to COVID-19, there are still many outdoor activity days ahead! You still need to follow the guide lines and regulations for COVID-19 like avoiding traveling when not necessary, washing your hands frequently, wearing a face-mask in public, and keeping 6 feet apart; however, there are still ways to social distance while enjoying the summer! Tennessee is absolutely beautiful and should be explored, so when you do, here are few things you should keep in mind when heading out!

 

Sun Protection. Sun Protection. SUN PROTECTION.

 

The summer usually brings people outdoors, so protecting your skin from sun damage is super important! Wear sunscreen and sunglasses folks. Cover up using lightweight, breathable clothing, stay in the shade, and plan around the sun as much as possible! Practice wearing at least 15 SPF sunscreen (shoot for 15-50+ SPF). It protects you from UV rays, prevents skin coloration and premature aging, and most importantly, reduces your chances of skin cancer (which is one of the most common cancers in the US). Just because you do not burn easily DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE IMMUNE TO SUN DAMAGE. Everyone is at risk, so make sure to apply it every two hours when outdoors, especially on your kids! Don’t forget to put it on your ears and lips – they can burn too!

 

Staying Hydrated

 

Summer brings the heat and humidity, especially in Tennessee. Staying hydrated during this time is so important! Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Make sure to drink water BEFORE feeling thirsty, so keeping a bottle of water with you will help encourage you to drink regularly, especially if you’re out in the sun. Create a water drinking schedule if you think that will help or eat H2O packed foods like celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and grapefruit. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion or a heat stroke, so make sure to take it seriously!

 

Heat Exhaustion

 

Stay cool, heat exhaustion is no joke! This happens when your body is overheated and has lost an excessive amount of water and salt due to sweating. This is why it is important to stay hydrated, take breaks during physical activity outdoors, and make sure to not leave anyone (or your pets) in a car. If you see someone or an animal in a hot car, immediately call 911. When heat exhaustion occurs, the symptoms/signs typically will be feeling weak, nauseous, moist skin, muscle cramps, headache, and have a rapid heart rate. If this happens, the best thing to do is move the person into shade, give them water, and cool them down with damp cloths. If not treated, heat exhaustion can turn into a heat stroke, which would need immediate medical attention. When this occurs, the person will have a body temperature above 103 degrees, dry and flushed skin, confusion, rapid breathing, and convulsions/unresponsiveness. If you think someone is having a heat stroke, call 911, move them to cool place, and remove unnecessary clothing. Heat exhaustion can affect any and all ages so everyone needs to make sure to stay hydrated and cooled down in the hot summer sun.

 

Water Safety

 

Swimming during the summer is one of the best ways to have fun and cool off from the hot sun, whether it be a pool, lake, or river. Before going swimming, especially with children, you need to know about water safety. You and/or your children should learn water safety and swimming skills as soon as possible.  If you have your own pool, it would be best to put up some safety precautions like having a fence around the pool, keeping flotation devices near the pool, install drain covers, and have proper “no diving” signage. If your child is swimming, make sure to keep your eye on them, EVEN if they know how to swim (lifeguards are not babysitters). You should never swim alone and also should not leave your child unattended while swimming, even if it is for a couple of minutes. Drownings can occur at any age, but the younger, the greater the risk. They are also usually quiet, unlike in movies where you hear yelling and splashing. Never dive in a shallow area or in an area that you are unsure of the depth. You should learn  CPR and basic rescue skills just in case you are around when a drowning occurs. Taking the boat out is also a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. Each state has different rules and regulations when it comes to public waters so make sure to learn about boating safety and swimming around boats before you get out on the water! Children 12 years old and younger MUST wear a personal flotation device that is a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket while on the open deck of any boat and ALL vessels must have an approved life jacket for EVERY person on board, no matter the age. If you are swimming in natural water (ocean, river, etc.) and get caught in a current, you would need to stay calm and not fight it, just float with it or swim parallel to shore. Having fun in water can be one of the best experiences, but even the best swimmer can make a mistake, so knowing some water safety skills is imperative!

 

Bites and Stings

 

No one is a fan of being stung or bit by an insect, so what do you need to watch out for if you do? Mosquito bites themselves do not particularly hurt; however, mosquitoes can carry and spread the Zika virus and West Nile virus to other people through biting. Ticks also can pass along Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and the Alpha-gal red meat allergy. Specifically, the red meat allergy comes from the bite of a Lone Star tick which has a white dot on its back. This does NOT mean that you will contract these diseases from every mosquito or tick bite, but it is something that you should be aware of and watch for if you or your family member does get bit. Make sure to check yourself for ticks after exploring the outdoors. If you do find a tick on yourself or family member, use tweezers to take the tick off. When going outdoors, make sure to wear an insect repellent (preferably one that contains DEET). Wear light colored clothing, long sleeved shirts, or long pants when possible. Avoid walking barefoot; this makes it easy for ticks to crawl on you or for you to get stung by a bee or wasp. If you do happen to get stung, remove the stinger using gauze to wipe over the area or by scraping a fingernail over the area, wash the the area with soap and water, and put an ice-pack on the area if it begins to swell. If know you are allergic to a bee or wasp, be prepared and carry an EpiPen (Epinephrine auto injector). If someone allergic around you does get stung, immediately call 911, administer the EpiPen if available, be prepared to give CPR if necessary while waiting for EMS.

 

The summer is one of the best seasons, especially for the kids on summer break! Have fun and explore the great outdoors while staying safe!

What Do I Do Now?….. Quarantine Style

Many of us are going on a few weeks of quarantining at home due to COVID-19. I am sure you have been able to catch up on all your favorite TV shows, clean the house for the hundredth time, or have attempted to keep the kids occupied while they are out of school. This post is here to help you stay positive and spark some interest in you all who have found yourselves bored, tired, unmotivated or  depressed since being quarantined. It is time to switch it up, try something new, learn a new skill, find different ways to boost your mood, and/or educate your kids.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” 

-Maya Angelou

 Stay Positive

 

  • Positive gratitude… Instead of focusing on what you currently can’t do, where you can’t go, or who you can’t see, focus on what you do have. Be grateful that you are able to get up each morning, that you have the ability to go outside, that you have a healthy family, that you are able to feed yourself and/or family, that you have a home, that you still have a job, or whatever it may be. BE GRATEFUL. In these hard times, we need to focus on the GOOD, not the bad or what we cannot control.
  • Keep a Routine… Though your normal, pre-quartantine routine has most likely been changed, you can create a new one for the time being. Remember that our current situation is temporary, but it is our new “normal” for now. Keeping a routine will help you feel more in control, less stressed and also help clear your head. Set a time to get up, to eat, to workout, to work, to watch your show (not all day), to play, to teach the kids or however you want your day to go! Create a schedule and stick to it! It will help!
  • Focus on the long term instead of short term…  Make goals for when we no longer have to be homebound. Reflect on yourself and determine what you really want in the next few months and/or years. Come up with a list that you want to accomplish in a month, 6 months, a year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. These can be as simple as “go to a state park at least 2 times a month” or as ambitious as “become the CEO of the company by…”. By creating these goals, you are able to escape our current situation and focus on what you want your future to hold and determine HOW to get there.
  • Surround yourself with positive people… Due to the current regulations to minimize travel and to encourage social distancing, do not physically go to other people’s houses or meet up. Instead, call them, Face time, Message, or use Zoom to contact them. Let your friends and family know that you are thankful for them. Having people in your life that can brighten your day (especially under current circumstances) or help escape the negativity that is broadcasted every day will help alleviate the anxiety, anger, loneliness, or just boredom that you might be feeling.  There is already so much going on in the world that you don’t need to have someone else bringing you down or making you feel even worse than before. On that note, YOU also do not want to be that negative person in someone else’ life. Be grateful and pass that optimism along to the next person.
  • When in doubt, listen to music that brightens your mood… Music is a powerful tool that can help turn your mood around. It is perfect to have playing when you’re cleaning, working out, cooking, dancing or playing with your kids outside.

What To Do When You’re All Out Of Ideas

 

  • Exercise physically and mentally… THIS. IS. A. MUST. For one, you are most likely way less active than you were pre-quarantine so you could most definitely use the movement right now. Secondly, exercising is a stress reliever and for some, a normal routine. Just because gyms are closed DOES NOT mean you cannot get in a good work out. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out some of these online classes for home workoutsHIIT workouts, YogaBoxingDancing or Stretching! If you can’t get yourself motivated to do a workout then aim for at least 30 minutes of MOVEMENT a day. This doesn’t mean you have to do burpees, but maybe 30 minutes of cleaning around the house, stretching, gardening, or a short walk around the neighborhood. Just get moving!!!
  • Fun family activities… backyard camping, backyard drive-in, bird watch, reading bingo, card games, board games (teach them chess, dominoes, and checkers), obstacle courses, charades, perform experiments instructed by Bill Nye the science guy, explore the Smithsonian resources , make your own hand soap, work on fine motor skills, make slime, explore outdoors
  • Jump back into or develop a new skill or hobby
    • Take up gardening, journaling, cross stitching, whittling, make a vision board, learn another language, work on a puzzle, get back into painting, try candle-making, crochet a blanket, cook those recipes you have been waiting to try, make a loaf of bread, learn to juggle
  • Have you organized the Tupperware and junk drawer/closet yet?… Maybe it is time to finally check that off the list!

During this time of uncertainty, keeping a positive, active mind and body are imperative. Make sure to limit the amount of time you spend on social media or watching the news. This will just cause more anxiety and is unnecessary. Have a routine to keep some normality in your/your families life. Try out some of these ideas out! At the very least, it will get you off the couch and trying something different!