Booksluts Summer Safety PSA: Reading Safety
As you may or may not know, I’m a member of the U.S. Air Force, so I am constantly getting reminded of how to do a wide variety of activities more safely. Seriously. Anything from grilling to snorkeling to using a scanner–I’ve heard the safety brief. The sad thing is that we wouldn’t get these briefings if people didn’t hurt themselves in stupid ways. Since Uncle Sam really cares about protecting me, I get a weekly safety brief, and since I really care about protecting you, our readers, I want to remind you to please read safely.
Now I know what you’re thinking: How is reading dangerous?! When you think of dangerous activities, reading is probably not high on your list of things that could get you injured or killed. However, there are some risks, so I am here to raise your awareness and provide you with lifesaving tips.
Wear proper safety equipment for reading.
What?! Safety equipment?! Yes. Wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for reading. Protect your eyes from strain by using a light and wearing glasses if appropriate. If you are reading outdoors, be sure to wear sunscreen. This is no joke, people! SPF 30 or greater is recommended to prevent sunburn and even potential skin cancer. Consider wearing gloves to protect yourself from paper cuts, especially if you are reading an illustrated book that is printed on heavy paper. You probably won’t die from a paper cut, but they really suck, and when you get one, you’ll kick yourself and wish you had listened.
Get enough sleep.
When reading a good book, it is often difficult to stop for anything, and it’s especially difficult to sleep. Many of us are tempted to pull all-nighters reading. But consider what you will have to do the next day. If you will be operating vehicles or heavy machinery, be sure to get the appropriate amount of sleep (6-8 hours) so you can do so safely. If you can’t get proper sleep due to reading, it is recommended that you call in sick to work. This has the added benefit of allowing you to stay home and read. Your life (or your book) is more important than a paycheck.
Put your book down and eat.
When reading, we are often swept away into a fictional world while our bodies are meanwhile wasting away without nourishment. Without proper nutrition, you will face serious health risks such as scurvy, decreased immunity, and starvation. The temptation will be to grab convenience food such as a bag of chips or a candy bar and continue reading. There are two reasons not to do this: The first is that spilled or dropped food could damage your book and you may be unable to use it for future reading. Second, typical snack foods don’t contain the proper amounts of nutrition that your body needs. For the best health benefits, you should eat a well-balanced meal that includes fresh fruits and vegetables. Then go back to reading.
Get some exercise!
Sitting in your chair hunched over a book for hours at a time will cause noticeable strain and discomfort for your body. It is recommended that at the very least, stand up and stretch every twenty minutes to restore proper circulation and ensure that all extremities and organs are receiving the right amount of oxygen and nutrients. While stretching is good during reading, for the best health benefits, do regular aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging or walking briskly. It is not recommended that you read normal books while performing these activities (unless you are on a treadmill or an elliptical), but then again, that’s what audiobooks are for.
Drink plenty of water.
No safety brief would be complete if you weren’t told to properly hydrate. It will help you regulate body temperature during the hibernatory process that often results from reading. It will also help with stretching, as you will have to stand up from your chair more often when the need to pee arises. Check your urine to make sure it is a light yellow color. Darker urine means you are not properly hydrated. Always be sure to have a water bottle on hand when reading.
Don’t read and drive!
Distracted driving kills. Don’t read while driving. Period. (Exception: Read the road signs. They might actually save your life.) If you really can’t stand to be away from your story while you’re on the road, then listen to audiobooks.
That’s it for now. I’m sure you didn’t think reading could have so many risks, so I’m glad I could increase awareness and potentially save lives. The floor is now open for discussion: Can you think of any other reading risks? What can we do to prevent them? Leave us a comment!