Before you head out the door, read these healthy habits for sun safety
While long summer days full of sunshine are enjoyable, it’s important to practice sun safety and avoid potential health issues caused by overexposure to the sun including sunburn, dehydration and long-term health issues like melanoma (skin cancer). The sun can harm our bodies in a relatively short period of time. Experts agree that UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes.
The strength of the sun’s UV rays varies based on factors like the time of day, your location, altitude and cloud cover. Regardless of the conditions outside, it is best to be prepared to safely enjoy the sunshine before you leave home. Here are some tips to enjoy the longer days in the sun safely.
Protect your skin this summer
It’s not just about sunscreen. There are several things we should be doing to protect our skin.
- Try to plan outside activities earlier in the day or later in the evening when the sun’s ultraviolet rays aren’t as strong. Stay in the shade or inside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wear clothing made with UV protection material or tightly woven fabric to cover up as much of your skin as possible.
- Choose a brimmed hat to shade your face, ears and back of your neck.
- Sunglasses that offer protection from both types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB, are the best choice for your eyes.
- Don’t forget your lips! Choose a lip balm with SPF protection.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy or cooler days. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if sweating or in water.
- Sunscreen can lose its effectiveness over time, check the expiration date to make sure it is still good to use. Consider a reef-safe sunscreen, which is free from chemical ingredients like parabens, PABA, Triclosan, oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene, known to damage the ocean’s coral reef and other marine life.
As temperatures increase, dehydration can happen quickly, especially if you are being active. Watch for signs of dehydration like increased thirst, dry mouth, muscle cramps, fatigue, lightheadedness, or even a decline in thinking and cognition. Here are some tips to stay hydrated while enjoying the sun:
- Experts recommended we drink half of our body weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, divide that by two and you get 90; the general rule is you will need to drink 90 ounces of water daily.
- If you are active in the heat of the sun, you will need to drink more than the general rule, about 8 to 10 ounces of water every 30 minutes during exercise.
- As you sweat during exercise, you’re using your body’s electrolytes, which are important for hydration absorption in the body. These can be replenished by adding an electrolyte tab to your water or choosing a beverage that has sodium and potassium in it, preferably one without added sugar.
- Keep in mind that alcohol and caffeinated beverages can make you more dehydrated.
If your day is taking you up a mountain or to higher elevations, be aware that UV rays are more intense at higher elevations. Prepare for your day and be attentive to the signs of sun exposure and dehydration.
If you encounter signs of dehydration, seek protection from the sun and rehydrate slowly – sip water, drinks with electrolytes, diluted fruit juice, or suck on ice chips or popsicles.
If the dehydration is severe, it’s time to see a doctor or go to the emergency room.
Remember to protect your skin, stay hydrated and plan ahead when you head outside to enjoy the sunshine this summer.