Summer is here! It is time once again for long days, outdoor adventure, and soaking in some extra rays. When it comes to these warmer months, remember to keep your health and safety in check so you can enjoy yourself all season long. The sun and heat come with certain risks and dangers that can put a serious damper on your plans if you aren’t careful. In this article, we offer some great tips to maximize your enjoyment by staying healthy and safe all summer long.
The beautiful sunshine helps to brighten our moods and give us the vitamin D our bodies need. However, remember that too much sunshine without proper protection can have a serious dark side. Prepare now to protect yourself when you are out and about this summer.
One of the most common risks of summertime fun is damage from the sun caused by exposure to its harmful, invisible UV radiation. To prevent sunburns, skin cancer, and premature signs of aging, be sure to stock up on sunscreen and apply it as directed to keep your skin protected.
When choosing a sunscreen, read the labels. The most effective sunscreen is labeled “broad spectrum” and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The FDA also recommends a protection level of SPF 15 or higher. The FDA also recommends wearing sunscreen daily, even when it is overcast, as harmful UV radiation from the sun can still penetrate through the clouds and reach our skin. Skin cancer is on the rise and is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.
Some sunscreens are water-resistant. However, no sunscreens are waterproof. Therefore, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours to remain effective and more frequently if swimming or sweating.
While a good sunscreen offers ample protection for your skin, there is no sunscreen that can completely block UV exposure. For that reason, it is not recommended to rely on sunscreen alone to stay protected. Combine sunscreen with other protective methods such as wearing UV protective clothing and staying in shaded areas when possible.
Glare and bright sunlight also expose your eyes to UV radiation and can cause vision damage. Avoid UV damage to your eyes by wearing protective sunglasses. Protective sunglasses are not simply the lenses with the darkest tint. UV radiation is not deterred by the color of the lens. Choose sunglasses labeled with a UV 400 rating or “100% UV protection”.
Another common challenge of these hotter months is staying hydrated. Proper hydration allows us to be more alert, think more clearly, digest food more easily, keep our joints lubricated, regulate body temperature, get better sleep, keep our organs functioning properly, and more. Your body and mind will inherently feel better thanks to proper hydration.
We are constantly losing water throughout the day when we breathe, talk, perspire, and go to the bathroom. This hydration needs to be replaced. If you are spending time in the heat or sun or exerting yourself physically, be sure to drink more water than usual and take care to replenish the electrolytes lost from sweating.
The amount of water one should drink per day varies from person to person. However, the most recent general recommendation for daily fluid intake is 11.5 cups per day for women and 15.5 cups per day for men. It is important to sip on water throughout the day, even when not feeling thirsty. The feeling of thirst can be an early sign of dehydration. Best to avoid getting to that point before drinking the water you need that day.
The following are signs of dehydration:
When these signs occur, take care to get out of the heat and sun and drink lots of hydrating fluids. If you think you may be severely dehydrated, seek urgent medical care.
If drinking enough water is difficult for you to achieve daily, you can try these tricks to make it easier:
Heatstroke is a serious condition caused by a dangerous rise in core body temperature usually from prolonged heat exposure or physical exertion. Immediate medical attention is required in the case of heatstroke, as it can cause damage to the brain if untreated. For this reason, it is important to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of heatstroke.
The following are signs and symptoms of heatstroke:
Seek immediate medical attention if you think someone is experiencing heat stroke. In the meantime, take steps to cool the affected person down by any means necessary. Take them indoors, remove excess clothing, put them in a cool tub or shower, have them drink a lot of water, use fans, and apply damp cloths on the face, neck, and head as well as ice packs around the body to help bring down their body temperature.
Taking to the trails in the summer months is a popular pastime. Unfortunately, every year many hikers run into trouble from injury, illness, getting lost, or a change in weather.
Before going on any hike, take time to make a plan. Look up the distance and terrain of the hike to know if it is a trail for which you are physically conditioned and have the appropriate gear. It is always recommended to go with at least one other person and at the very minimum, always let a trusted friend or family member know where you will be.
While one of the draws of nature is that you can never quite predict what you will see, this is all the more reason to be prepared. A popular list called “The 10 Essentials” can be a good starting point for making sure you have supplies and provisions that will come in handy and possibly save your life in the case that you stumble into unforeseen danger.
A final sobering word on road safety before you embark on your grand summer adventures; bear in mind that the summer months also mean teenage drivers are out of school and spending more time sharing the road, making teen-related car crashes far more likely. AAA calls the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day “The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer” for this reason and urges all drivers to take extra precautions behind the wheel. Remember to avoid poor habits on the road such as distracted driving, speeding, road rage, and driving at night.
We at Community Healthcare Partners hope you spend this sunny season having fun and making fond memories with your loved ones. It is also our hope that the information in this article helps you prepare for the risks and dangers that are most common during this time of year so you can stay aware and avoid serious injury and illness. Now get out there and have a healthy, safe, and fun-filled summer!