In many parts of the country, summer brings warmer weather and brighter skies, which provides the perfect conditions for planning many outdoor activities. While being outdoors allows for plenty of things to do, such as swimming, hiking and sailing, too much sun can be extremely dangerous to one’s health.
Not only does the sun cause mild to severe sunburn, but many studies have shown a direct link between skin cancer and overexposure to the sun. The sun is known to cause premature wrinkles on the face, hands and neck. The heat also causes several health risks, including dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even stroke.
Below is a list of several steps that a person can take to help them stay cool and avoid sunburn this summer, and reduce the health risks associated with overexposure to the sun and heat:
- Avoid Direct Sunlight – It is recommended that people avoid going outside during the hours of 10am – 4pm, whenever possible. The UV rays are the strongest during this time of the day, and cause the most damage to the skin. A quick glance at one’s shadow can quickly tell them if the UV exposure is high or low. If a person’s shadow is taller than they are, then the UV rays are low, otherwise the UV rays are high and should be avoided if possible.
- Wear the Right Clothing – The right type of clothing not only protects the skin from sunburn and the risk of skin cancer, but it can also keep the body cool even when it is hot outside. It is best to wear clothing that is loose fitting and made of light colors to help reflect the heat. To avoid sunburn, one should wear clothing that covers the arms and legs, and a hat with at least a 4-inch brim, when out in the sun for a long period.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids – It is very important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, when it is hot outside. The body naturally sweats when it is hot, which actually works to cool down the body and keep it at a comfortable level. The body needs extra water in its system to be able to properly cool itself down. Water will also keep the body from dehydration and keep one’s energy level up.
- Always Use the Right Sunscreen – Most doctors recommend that people wear sunscreen anytime they are going to be outside. To ensure proper protection, it is best to use a sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF, and apply it to the skin at least 30 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should be applied every 2-3 hours or whenever getting out of the water.
Even with the best of intentions, many people end up staying out in the sun for too long and find themselves with sunburn on some parts of their body. For the best result, sunburn should be treated as quickly as possible with an ointment like aloe vera, and then wrapped in a bandage for burns. Burn bandages are used to help keep bacteria from entering the wound and causing an infection. If the sunburn is severe, it is best to have a doctor administer proper burn care.
Susan Ptacek is an avid writer of recreation and sporting topics, and she often focuses on how to stay safe while doing outdoor activities. If you find yourself getting severely sunburned, try using burn bandages to help the healing process.