It’s hard to believe we’re just a week away from celebrating our nation’s birthday.

It’s hard to believe we’re just a week away from celebrating our nation’s birthday. When I think back on the Fourth of July celebrations with my family, many fond memories come to mind. I remember spending the holiday and many summer weekends at the lake, boating, swimming, barbecuing and shooting off fireworks at dusk. As we look at celebrating this Independence Day, let’s look at activities we can do to help build memories with our families while also making healthy choices and staying active all summer.

Summer is one of my favorite seasons. I love nothing more on a hot summer day than to head out to the pool or to the creek on the weekends with my family for a refreshing dip in the water. This is one great way to stay active during the hot summer months. Although the heat and humidity are sometimes unbearable, which forces us indoors where we can relax and stay cool in the air conditioning, I do encourage you to head out when you can, and choose an activity that will keep you cool, such as swimming.

During the summer, the hottest part of the day is typically between 2 and 5 p.m. So, start your day a little earlier. Set your alarm and head outdoors at dawn to experience the peace that comes from an early morning walk or run.

In the heat of the day, set up the sprinkler and enjoy watching your kids run and play. Watch them sail down the slip and slide or maybe even take a turn yourself! Have a friendly water balloon fight or teach your kids to fly a kite. Head out to the local Fourth of July parade, maybe even walk to the location, if possible. Too hot outside? Take your physical activity indoors and go skating or bowling. Build a fort in your living room, have an indoor scavenger hunt or an indoor game of hide and seek. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, choose activities that are enjoyable to you and ones that will include everyone.

During these hot summer days, it’s important to stay hydrated with water or an electrolyte drink. If you’re going to be outdoors in the heat for long periods of time, make sure to pack a cooler with water and healthy snacks that will help you stay energized. Becoming dehydrated can be very dangerous to your body, so remember to replenish your body with water. Also try to stay in shaded areas when possible and remember to use your sunscreen.

Remember to stay safe this Fourth of July. Enjoy the fireworks, but remember to use them responsibly to eliminate injuries. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family to help celebrate this year, head out to Celebrate Neosho. This year’s festival will be held at the Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport and will include a night time air show and firework show. You can even start your day off with some physical activity by running or walking in the Celebrate Neosho 5k at Morse Park. Have a fun and safe Fourth of July and happy birthday America!

Sarah Sonis is program director for the Freeman Southwest Family YMCA.