It’s coming– a week of freedom and fun from school. But because our job is to promote healthy living, we wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t offer a few “reminders” before the festivities begin. Keep in mind; this isn’t a lecture, it’s common sense.

Get vaccinated. 

If you’re traveling out of the U.S., vaccinations are recommended and sometimes required. Many of these are a series of vaccinations, so plan ahead. The Gallatin County Health Department offers travel consultations and vaccinations, call 406.582.3100 or for more information go to:

Sun safety. 

The sun can be deceptive and you may not realize just how much you are absorbing. If your shadow is shorter than you are tall, the intensity of ultra violet radiation from the sun is more likely to cause sunburn. SPF 45 blocks 98% of the UV rays, but don’t stop there. Lightweight, protective clothing is recommended and some fabrics even come with UV blockers.

Long term exposure increases your chance of developing eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association recommends wearing quality, wraparound sunglasses with UV protection as well as a hat with a wide brim.

If you are prone to cold sores, the sun and fatigue can be triggers. Always wear lip balm with SPF and again, wear a hat.

Don’t overdo it. The sun can cause heat exhaustion and eventually heatstroke which occurs when the body temperature rises above 104 degrees. Symptoms include vomiting, confusion, hyperventilation and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If someone is displaying these symptoms, call 911 immediately. 

Limit alcohol.

The health risks of too much alcohol far exceed the hangover. Impaired judgment leads to poor decisions such as drinking and driving, or unsafe sexual behavior. It’s recommended not to have more than one drink per hour, eat a solid meal beforehand, and rotate with non-alcoholic drinks.

Don’t put yourself in risky situations. Always keep your cocktail with you to avoid tampering. If you have been drinking, it’s not a good idea to go anywhere with people you are unfamiliar with and avoid being alone.

Protection goes well beyond a condom. 

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases are increasing. Abstinence is smart until you really know someone, but condoms are the next best. Don’t kid yourself– keep them on hand, even if you are using another form of birth control.

Don’t put yourself in risky situations. Know your surroundings and form a buddy system with a “butt in” signal for uncomfortable situations.

Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know or trust.

Always carry emergency cash.

Notes for the adventurous…

Not to sound like your parents, but wear your life vest, your helmet and your seatbelt. Unintentional injuries kill more Americans in their first 3 decades of life than any other cause. If you’re going on a high-risk adventure, keep it real– stay alert, aware and safe.

Eat healthy and stay hydrated.

Don’t completely shun nutritious food—it will keep your energy levels up.  Same with water…you know the routine.

Don’t let a mindless mishap ruin your break, keep these tips top of mind, and by all means, HAVE FUN!