Mom, dad and daughter around a campfire outdoors (photo by iStock)
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: June 2023

Get pointers to keep in mind for safe campfires this summer, and learn strategies for staying hydrated as the season heats up. 

Flame On
Enjoy a campfire or backyard fire pit with family and friends this summer without feeling the burn.

From s’mores to stories told by firelight, there are good reasons why fire pits have become a backyard staple. But flames must be respected, and even those who think they are being careful can get burned if they don’t take precautions. Beyond that, flames that escape the backyard fire pit or campsite can do significant damage. “Nearly all wildfires in Ohio are preventable and caused by humans,” says Aaron Kloss, wildfire prevention program administrator at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Here are some safety strategies to put into practice this season.

Prepare the Pit. “Your fire ring should be made of nonflammable material like a steel rim, concrete ring or a prefabricated fire pit — even a ring made of rocks and stones,” Kloss says. Also make sure flammable materials like dead grass or dry leaves are cleared away. If your fire is in a portable fire pit, the clearance minimum is 15 feet. 

Burn Clean. Use dry, seasoned firewood. Avoid using fresh wood, scrap lumber that may contain chemicals and wood with poison ivy vines. (Ohio prohibits burning a range of items, including those containing rubber, grease, asphalt or petroleum). Dry, windy conditions can increase the chances of a fire escaping the ring, and if there is an air-quality alert or warning, save the fire for another day.

Keep Water on Hand. Be sure you have water nearby and be thorough when extinguishing a fire after you’re done enjoying it. “Extinguishing a fire pit involves water, then stirring the fire pit with a shovel or rake, making sure the heat is completely out of there [and] the campfire is cold to the touch,” Kloss says.


Woman drinking water out of reusable bottle (photo by iStock)

Water Ways  
Hydration is important for good health, and the season of soaring temps makes that need even greater. Here are simple strategies for keeping your fluids up. 

By the time you recognize you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, and not everyone experiences it the same way. Aside from feeling parched, common signs that it’s time to fill up with fluids can include fatigue, headache, dizziness and muscle cramps. During the summer, our body’s fluid levels can drop more quickly as temperatures rise.

“Fluids are important for regulating body temperature, to flush out toxins and just stay healthy overall,” says Carly Sedlacek, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Human Nutrition.

Proper hydration helps reduce joint inflammation, prevents infections, delivers nutrients to cells and keeps organs in good working order. Plus, it improves sleep at night, energy levels during the day and cognition in general.

“There are some health risks with not being hydrated,” Sedlacek says. “Sometimes we’ll see higher blood pressure, and lack of hydration is related to other conditions, like kidney damage.”

Here are some sip-savvy tips to keep your body, which is about 60 percent water, refreshed and ready for summer fun.

Fill Up. Most people need about eight 8-ounce cups of water every day as a baseline, Sedlacek says. If that sounds like a lot, you’d be surprised how much water you’re consuming in foods like strawberries. Dairy drinks count, as do decaffeinated teas, sparkling water, juices and sports beverages. Just be careful about added sugars, Sedlacek cautions. Tired of swigging on plain water? Infuse it with lemon, lime, cucumber or berries. “Make your own beverage,” Sedlacek says. “We see people drink more water if they have a fun water bottle they like, especially with a straw.”

Remember the Electrolytes. Beyond fluids, your body needs electrolytes to stay hydrated, and we’re not just talking about Gatorade. “[Electrolytes] can be defined as minerals like sodium, potassium, chloride and calcium,” Sedlacek explains. For instance, milk is a rich source of electrolytes, as are bananas. Other sources include nuts, potatoes, broccoli and seeds. Those with more adventurous palates can sip pickle juice — it contains sodium, potassium and magnesium as a natural electrolyte — after exercise. 

Know Your Needs. Adults’ fluid reserves tend to shrink with age. “They might not necessarily feel thirst, but it’s still super important to get enough fluid throughout the day,” Sedlacek says. As for children, fluid requirements evolve as they grow, so keep an eye on how much liquid they’re consuming. “Continue to introduce kids to new foods that are higher in water and electrolyte content,” she says. “[This] can be very helpful for staying hydrated as they grow.”