As we approach the dog days of summer, it is important to remind one’s self of the importance of sun and heat safety. While the human body requires sunlight in order to produce vitamin D, spending too much time exposed to intense UV rays, no matter what the season, is asking for discomfort at the least and a possible life-threatening malignancy or heatstroke at the worst.
It is widely known that sun exposure, even when relatively minor, can have a detrimental effect on the health of one’s skin. Sunburn, premature aging, and discolorations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sun’s potential ill effects on one’s health. Sun damage, over time, can harm the skin’s natural immune defenses resulting in cancerous skin legions, especially for those with fair skin.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind while enjoying the outdoors:
– Wear sunglasses. Not only will they prevent you from squinting, large frames also partially cover the particularly fragile skin on your face.
– Wear sunscreen, SPF15 at the least. Reapply often and especially after heavy sweating or toweling off after a swim. Don’t forget the ears! For children, SPF30 is recommended.
– Wear a wide brimmed hat. Provide your face and neck with some shade.
– Remember that the sun’s UV rays are reflected by both water and sand. Even if you’ve got it made in the shade, that beach day might leave you red if you don’t apply sunscreen properly!
– When possible, wear long sleeves and pants made from tightly woven, dark materials. The more coverage the better.
Prolonged exposure to intense heat is another danger associated with this time of the year in particular. Heatstroke occurs when the body is unable to bring its temperature back to a healthy level as a result of overheating. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, vomiting, increased heart rate, reddening of the skin, rapid, shallow breathing, and irritability. In situations where heatstroke occurs due to extreme weather or environment, the skin will be hot to the touch and dry.
Below are some tips to prevent one from suffering heatstroke:
– Wear loose, light clothing. Heavy, tight garments prevent the body from cooling off.
– The sun is at its most intense from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. If possible, avoid strenuous outdoor activities during these hours.
– Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors. Preferably in an area that is cooled with a fan or air conditioning and is out of direct sunlight.
– Drink plenty of cold water.
– Plan smart. If you have a flexible schedule and the day you were planning on sealing the deck is forecasted to be 98 degrees and sunny, it would be wise to change your plans and save your outdoor work for a day that is less likely to create ideal conditions for heatstroke and sunburn.
Spending time outdoors is a great way to rejuvenate the spirit, clear your mind, and refresh. However, it isn’t free of dangers and caution must be taken to avoid both short and long term health complications. Enjoy your summer safely!