We live in a post-apocalyptic world, but summer is a time when the pollution and hordes of flesh-eating zombies dissipate just enough so that you can leave your makeshift bomb shelters without a gas mask.
To that end, the Environmental Protection Agency - the people responsible for unleashing ghosts on Manhattan - has some helpful tips on how to spend your summer suspecting danger and disease at every corner.
1. Careful where you breathe
“People with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of pollutants in the air and should closely monitor the air quality in their area,” an EPA press release from Jennifer Colaizzi stated. “AirNow's Air Quality Index (AQI) translates data into color categories so people can better understand what actions to take to protect their health.”
So before you leave your bunker, check that AQI. But you should probably wear the gas mask just to be safe.
2. Watch out for that sun, sand and saltwater place
“Swim safely, protect yourself from the sun with broad-spectrum sunscreen, stay hydrated by drinking water, watch for trash and other signs of pollution, and report dangers you see to lifeguards or other beach workers,” Colaizzi wrote.
Not sure what swim safely means, it’s probably better if you just avoid that ocean anyway – there’s sharks, you know. And I’m sure they mean only drink water if you’ve properly filtered it at least seven times.
And watch for other signs of pollution? The EPA has apparently not been to the Jersey Shore because it would probably be more difficult searching for areas that aren't polluted (jokes, people, I lived in New Jersey and survived its beaches for the most part).
3. Forget the bodily fluids in your hotel, bed bugs are the real threat
“Traveling is fun; bed bugs are not. Take steps when away from home to avoid bringing home unwelcome visitors,” Colaizzi wrote. “Inspect the mattress and headboard where you will be staying for the presence of bed bugs. Leave your luggage on a luggage rack, not on the bed or floor, and try to keep luggage away from the bed.”
Open the hotel room and put on a pair of hospital booties. Carefully tiptoe to the bed for inspection while the rest of your family waits in the safety of the sterile hotel hallway. If bed bugs are suspected, quickly douse yourself in a chemical shower. Didn’t bring one? Oh, well, um, sorry ...
4. Spy on your neighbors, they could be polluting
“Your community encompasses the people in your neighborhood and the space you share,” Colaizzi wrote. “Your community’s air, water, and land are subject to environmental concerns.”
Take those Joneses down a peg reporting them for mixing plastic with paper. The horror.
5. Sweat it out
“The average family spends 20 percent of its home utility bill on cooling,” Colaizzi wrote. “Cooling bills can be lowered by giving your air conditioner a break while you are asleep or when no one is home. Properly using a programmable thermostat can save you $180 a year on your energy bill.”
Heat stroke: Cheaper than keeping cool, probably.
6. Buy a new car, but make sure it’s a Toyota Prius or Chevy Volt
“To save money and gas, follow these tips: roll the windows down when driving at lower speeds, use the AC at highway speeds, park in the shade or use a sunshade, and read about the AC system in your car’s owner’s manual,” Colaizzi wrote. “Additionally, complete needed maintenance and ensure tires are properly inflated.”
The tips are fine, but reading even a short section of your car’s owner’s manual is enough to ruin your summer. Also, mechanics, am I right?
“While some insect bites are benign, biting insects can carry dangerous diseases,” Colaizzi wrote. “Using the right insect repellent and taking preventive actions can repel ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects.”
Insects, or as we at the Washington Examiner call them, “malaria mites,” exist solely for the purpose of annoying human beings while they’re outside (and inside, as Buzz McFly is currently reminding me).
But because we’re civilized, we don’t want to kill the bloodsuckers, we just want to “repel” them. It’s the progressive thing to do.
8. Lawn care communism
“With your grass shooting up, it is time to mow. For a healthy lawn, cutting height is recommended between 2.5 and 3.5 inches,” Colaizzi wrote. “Mow often enough to cut less than a third of total grass height. Leave clippings in the grass to recycle the nitrogen and prevent filling landfills.”
Remember that scene in “Over the Hedge” where Gladys is telling a homeowner that “The homeowners charter, which you signed, says the grass is supposed to be two inches, and according to my measuring stick, yours is two-point-five”?
Of course you don’t, because you have way more important things to do than watch kids' movies about talking rodents. But I don’t, that’s why it’s engrained in my brain.
But anyway, that’s how the EPA’s lawn care tips sound.
9. More bug rescue
“Pest control in the garden often refers to the use of chemical pesticides. To ensure public safety, EPA offers a Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety' as well as tailored guides on protecting your garden, children, and household,” Colaizzi wrote. “These guides offer advice on pesticide selection for health and pollinator protection and best-alternative environmentally friendly practices.”
At least you can use chemicals, but only if the sun is in the right spot in the sky and you live in an area currently experiencing a drought, but other than that, garden away!
10. Don’t trust that sun guy, he’ll burn you
“Check the Ultraviolet (UV) Index anytime ... to plan outdoor activities while preventing overexposure to the sun,” Colaizzi wrote. “Apply a palm-full of sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that provides broad-spectrum protection 15 minutes before heading outdoors. Reapply every two hours. Wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.”
Yes, this was already covered under point number two, but the EPA just wants to make sure you didn’t forget.
The sun is trying to hurt you, is the crux of this argument. Best just to stay indoors and remain a healthy alabaster than face Ra. We may have been created from his tears and sweat (lovely Image) but now he found a girlfriend and turned on the AC, so we’re out of luck.
11. Before passing out, water your lawn, it’ll be a blast
“When it is time to water your lawn or plants, avoid watering in the middle of the day when the hot sun will evaporate the water. Instead, water during the early morning and evening, for a total of one inch of water per week, including rainfall,” Colaizzi wrote. “A WaterSense labeled automatic sprinkler can take the guesswork out of watering and save money.”
Don’t water your lawn in the middle of the day, that’s when Ra is watching! Wait until after your evening festivities, then break out the hose.
Better yet, set up a forest of sprinklers to water your lawn and collect neighborhood children to help fight against Ra. He can’t hurt us if we’re cool.
So as you prepare for your holiday weekend and summer fun in general; don’t. The air, water, ground, sun, bugs and hotel are out to get you.