Know Before You Go

Know Before You Go

By Doug Nelson
Community Center Manager

April is a popular month for parks activities and outdoor recreation. It is common for local cities and park districts to host Parks Appreciation events that attract park volunteers and lovers of the outdoors. When you get the itch to get outdoors and enjoy this spring and summer weather, here are some things you need to know before you go.

First off, the sunscreen in your cupboard from last year has expired and will most likely be ineffective against harmful sun rays. Speaking from experience, I have tested this theory out and wound up with a really bad sunburn. A quick internet search will help you select the best sunscreen for your skin-type and your intended activity. Other equipment you might consider would include sunglasses and a sun visor or hat. Also, if you have sensitive skin, harmful ultra-violet (UV) rays may penetrate your clothing. If this is the case, look for functional garments that offer protection from UV rays, often referred to as UPF clothing.

On your next outdoor adventure, might you encounter mosquitoes, bees, or some other random insect? The answer is YES. My friend and I once went on this amazing trail run near Crystal Mountain. The temperature was mild, the sun came out, and the views were spectacular! What we didn’t plan for were mosquitoes. We were nearly “attacked” by these annoying pests throughout the entire run. What should have been a glorious day in the mountains turned into an extremely frustrating experience, and we had to deal with the itching and scratching for days to follow. Had we planned ahead with the proper, sweat resistant, mosquito repellent we would have been good to go. Another consideration would be bees. Bee stings do not happen frequently, but should be taken into account. If you are stung by a bee, do your best to remove the stinger from the skin and clean the area with soap and water. You will likely be dealing with mild skin irritation and swelling for a limited time. If you’ve been known to have an allergic reaction to bee stings, your doctor may prescribe an Epi-Pen which you should have with you at all times.

Lastly, how much food and water will you need on your outing? Hydration and caloric needs can vary greatly from one individual to another, but as a general rule you will want to be properly hydrated and ‘fueled up’ before exercise and maintain those levels during exercise and recreation activities. I like to use the hour rule; meaning that I’m going to need a bottle of water every hour, and a snack every three hours. Feel free to vary based on your individual needs, but never leave the house empty handed.

Well, that pretty much covers it. I hope that you appreciate your local parks as much as I do. Some extra planning and preparation on your part will ensure that your next adventure is memorable for all the right reasons.