Everyone loves summer, but with the rising mercury breaking record temps across the nation, it’s critical to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun’s powerful rays. Especially for the elderly and very young, too much exposure to extreme sun and the summer heat can cause significant health risks, including dehydration, sunburn, skin cancer, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If not treated promptly and properly, some of these complications can cause irreversible damage and even death.
Keep cool while you enjoy the warm weather with family and friends! Developing safe sun habits is easier than you think:
- Wear sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply at least 20 minutes before going outside so it has a chance to be absorbed by your skin, and reapply regularly throughout the day, especially if you’re perspiring or swimming.
- Dress smart: Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing that breathes easy. Hats, long sleeves and pants can help add an extra layer of protection between you and the sun.
- Avoid sun during peak hours: The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Opt to eat lunch indoors in the air conditioning and seek shade if you are outside.
- Stay hydrated: Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. The daily recommended amount is about eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day; however, during these hot summer months you should increase your intake, especially if you’re physically active or pregnant. Be mindful of beverages that can actually dehydrate you, including coffee, soda and alcohol.
If you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, seek medical assistance immediately. Warning signs of heat stroke include:
- Elevated body temperature with the absence of sweat
- Rapid pulse
- Red, flushed complexion
- Headache, dizziness or nausea
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Heavy perspiration
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
- Muscle cramps
Most importantly, listen to your body! Whether you’re just doing yard work or enjoying your family’s summer vacation, don’t try to overdo it. There’s plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors this summer with family and friends without sacrificing your health! For more tips and information on summer heat safety, visit http://www.redcross.org/.