20 Things You Must Do Before the First Day of Summer
Follow these tips for a healthier, happier summer.
Get a skin check
More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other types of cancer combined, reports The Skin Cancer Foundation, which is why getting an annual skin check is imperative. "We're living in a time of skin cancer epidemic—one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetimes, so earlier detection and earlier treatment are absolutely critical," says Jeffrey S. Fromowitz, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Boca Raton, Florida. Schedule your annual checkup before the sunny days of summer arrive.
Familiarize yourself with the EWG's "Clean Fifteen"
Make two copies each of the Environmental Working Group's 2018 "Clean Fifteen" and "Dirty Dozen" lists, which rank this summer's cleanest and dirtiest produce, from a pesticides' perspective. Research has linked exposure to these chemicals with potential fertility and neurological problems. Tape one copy to your fridge and keep one in your wallet—that way you'll always have a handy reminder of which summer superfoods have the least amount of pesticide residue (avocados and sweet corn) and which hang on to the most (strawberries). Don't worry, just because something makes the dirty list doesn't mean you need to abstain altogether—just wash those items extra well before consuming. Give these summer foods that are healthier than you thought a try too.
Stock up on summer toiletries
Summertime calls for a few extra personal care products that the other seasons don't. If you know you're a sticky sweaty mess all summer, swap your regular deodorant for an antiperspirant that contains aluminum chloride or aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, which more effectively combat sweating. If chafing is a problem—moisture and friction, like your thighs rubbing together, triggers this uncomfortable condition that turns skin red and raw—make sure you have an ointment like petroleum jelly, coconut oil, or lanolin (try Lansinoh's HPA Lanolin Minis, which are perfect for stashing in the car, purse, or beach bag) handy. You should also consider swapping out your regular skin care products for lighter versions, especially if you're prone to breakouts. Not sure where to start? Try Walgreen's SkinID Advisor. After answering a few simple questions, it curates a list of three products to address all your complexion concerns. Find out how top dermatologist switch up their skin-care routine in the warmer months.
Get your car a tune-up
Make sure your car is in good working order before setting out on any summer road trips. "Keep tires properly inflated (rising temperatures raise tire pressure, causing them to work less efficiently), check to be sure your air conditioning system is working (you don't want to be stranded in the heat without it), and test your battery (replacing if necessary)," advises Jeff Hermsen, auto expert and store manager at Just Tires in Deerfield, Illinois.
Plan fun yet educational activities for your kids
Keep your little ones sharp this summer by planning ahead. To help kids hold on to the knowledge and skills they've built all school year, Kim Cullen, senior program manager at Stratford School in California, suggests summer journaling, scavenger hunts with educational clues, or creating a reading challenge where you read all their favorite books by the end of summer. Check out these 7 ways to prevent summer weight gain in kids, too.
Knowing how to properly perform CPR could be the difference between life or death during a summertime emergency. In 2016, more than 1,000 kids drowned and an estimated 7,000 more ended up in the emergency room due to a drowning scare, according to a new report by Safe Kids Worldwide. Familiarize yourself with the hands-only version: first, call 911, then push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives.
Invest in cooling sleepwear
Even the most energy-efficient air conditioner can still hike up your summer electric bill. Cut costs by choosing PJs or pillowcases made of silk, a magical fabric that keeps you cool when you're hot (and warm when you're cold). If you're looking for something less pricey, opt for breathable cotton or a moisture-wicking material. If a sweat-free night is really important to you, you can take it one step further and explore pillows and mattresses that promise to have cooling properties (try Nest Bedding, which offers an array of sleep products and apparel).
Make a vacation checklist
Don't wait until the week before vacation to start prepping and packing—you'll cut back on stress by starting a list well ahead of time, and you can start stockpiling essentials in a designated area so you don't forget anything last minute. In addition to clothing, toiletries, and any medication you take regularly, it's a good idea to pack a small first aid kit and even a portable carbon monoxide and smoke detector if you'll be staying at a private vacation home and not a hotel—a new study found that many Airbnb properties lacked sufficient safety features.
Finish your spring cleaning
If you haven't given your home the spring cleaning treatment, it's not too late. Rid your floors, corners, carpets, and surfaces of dirt and dust that might have built up during the lazy winter months. Get in the summer spirit by choosing fresh and tropical scents; Clorox released a new Scentiva scent called Pacific Breeze & Coconut that will leave your home sparkling and smelling beachy fresh. If you need convenience to stay on task, opt for disinfecting wipes (try Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or Seventh Generation). Choose an easy-to-use mop like the Rejuvenate Click n Clean, which uses microfiber pads to get the job done—studies have found that microfiber eliminates significantly more bacteria than cotton. Another smart investment is a lightweight, cordless vacuum like the Hoover Cordless React. The handle of the rechargeable vacuum is removable and perfect to use for those quick pickups—and even reaches those tricky spots, like under the seats in your car.
Load up on bloat-blasting foods
Keep a list of foods that beat bloating—the last thing you want to deal with when it's time to hit the pool or beach! Yogurt, cucumbers, ginger, and leafy greens can all help. You can also look for foods that say "low fodmap" on the label, such as Fody—these types of foods don't trigger gas or bloating. These are the summer foods that will help you slim down.
Buy one good pair of sandals
Summer footwear tends to be terrible for your body, so it's a good idea to invest in at least one pair of sandals that provides the support your joints need. Then, wear them a couple days a week to give your feet a break. You don't need to sacrifice fashion, either—brands like Lifestride and SOLE make attractive footwear that is specifically designed to be properly supportive. Find out the other life hacks that will make your summer a breeze.
Start taking allergy meds
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you should have started taking allergy medication before the first day of summer hits, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network. Don't miss these summer first aid tips you should know.
Stock smarter snacks
Don't blow your summer diet snacking—keep your pantry and your fridge filled with healthier options for when the urge does hit. Look for low-calorie but flavorful seaweed snacks (try the brand gimMe Health Foods), fruit or veggie crisps (try Bare), or classic favorites that have been given a healthier twist like SunChips with whole grains and vegetables or Smartfood Delight, popcorn that's just 35 calories per cup. For a healthy way to get more veggies, try Zupa Noma, cold vegetable soups that you can sip straight from the fridge. You'll also want to know these 18 healthy ways to prepare your body for summer.
Spruce up your home
You don't need to do a full remodel, but it's important to keep up with repairs and general home maintenance, especially if you live in a place hit hard by winter cold, snow, and ice. "It's important to keep up with jobs like deck or roof repair, exterior painting, window replacement, and anything else that needs attention. It will ultimately improve or maintain the value of your home, and often I find that homeowners who neglect these smaller tasks face more costly repairs down the road," says Dave Dombroski, a licensed contractor and co-founder of sidekick.
Stock up on sun protection
Be sure you have plenty of sunscreen that's at least SPF 30, as well as hats, SPF clothing or swimsuits, and sunglasses with UV protection. UV damage can wreak havoc on the skin around your eyes and your actual peepers if you don't take proper precautions, says Steven Klein, OD, a therapeutic optometrist. Don't make these sun protection mistakes.
Plant an herb garden
Cooking with herbs not only provides more fresh flavor, allowing you to cut back on unhealthier ingredients like salt, but many also deliver a dose of antioxidants and other nutrients. Get seeds or seedlings in the ground now and watch them thrive.
Plan healthier meals
No, you don't need to plan out an entire summer's worth of meals, however, you can brainstorm ways to sneak more fresh veggies in—summer is prime time for superfoods like strawberries, blueberries, avocado, and bell peppers. You can also think about how to lighten up some of your favorite dishes. For pasta salad, choose noodles with a bigger nutritional punch, such as protein-packed options from Explore Cuisine or whole grain options from Ancient Harvest. When it comes to protein, splurge on seafood, grill up plant-based sausage (try Field Roast), and choose hot dogs or burgers made from grass-fed animals (try Teton Ranch or Respect burgers).
Pledge to stay hydrated
Plan to have hydrating beverage options stocked and ready to grab all summer. Buy a water jug specifically for infused water, and keep it filled with H20 and flavorful additions like lemon or lime, mint, or ginger. Get a dose of antioxidants and probiotics from a low-sugar Kombucha like GT's Living Foods. To get your fizzy fix, try calorie-free options like Sparkling Ice or plain ol' seltzer. And opt for juicy, waterlogged fruits and veggies such as watermelon, cucumber, tomato, and cantaloupe. Find out the sneaky ways you could be dehydrating yourself.
Tune up the grill
Make sure your grill is primed and ready for your first backyard barbecue. Dust it off, clean the grates and grilling tools, ensure your propane tank is filled or you're stocked up on charcoal, and always have a fire extinguisher nearby. Here's how to grill healthier this summer.
Prep a disaster kit
Be prepared for the summer's next big hurricane, tornado, or wildfire by keeping an emergency kit at the ready. The American Red Cross has a handy list of critical items, and the Banfield Foundation has pre-packed kits filled with pet essentials that you can order online. Next, don't miss these 50 ways to have your healthiest summer ever.