How to Stay Safe While Having Fun in the Sun This Summer
Posted July 18, 2017
Summertime means fun outdoors: swimming, sporting events, cookouts, outdoor workouts—you name it. Time flies when we’re having fun, and sometimes it can be hard to remember that prolonged exposure to heat and sun can pose dangers to our health.
Did you know that July is typically the hottest month out of the entire year globally? In fact, last July earned its spot as the warmest month on record dating back to 1880 1. As we approach the second half of July this year, be sure to take precautions while in the heat.
Dangers of Heat Exposure
Although most people are only familiar with sunburn being a result of too long in the sun, it isn’t the only consequence of prolonged sun and heat exposure. There’s an array of different heat illnesses that can potentially be very dangerous.
So, what are they?
1.) Heat Cramps are involuntary muscle cramps that are typically caused by working out in a hot environment. Although any muscle group can be affected by heat cramps, the most commonly affected groups are abdominals, back, calves, and arms.
2.) Heat Exhaustion occurs when the body is deprived of salt or water. Symptoms of this illness include muscle weakness, headache, and excessive thirst. Predominantly occurring in athletes, heat exhaustion is caused by extreme sweating while doing physical activity in hot temperatures. Eventually, sweating can no longer cool the body down, and as a result, perspiration decreases and body temperature spikes drastically.
3.) Heat Rash is a type of skin irritation that occurs when sweat glands have been blocked in humid climates. The irritation appears as tiny red bumps and can be soothed by applying lotion and wearing light clothing.
4.) Sunburn is the most common and most well known consequence of excessive sun exposure. The skin has a protective layer called melanin, and when this layer can no longer protect your skin after a certain amount of time in the sun, your skin will burn. This layer’s ability to protect the skin varies from person to person, depending on the color of their skin. Although sun burn is common, it is not to be brushed aside, for it increases the risk of developing skin cancer in the future.
5.) Heat Stroke is the most severe heat-related illness, and typically occurs in people that are not accustomed to high heat. When this happens, the body is unable to control its temperature. Someone experiencing a heat stroke might have the following symptoms: throbbing headache, low blood pressure, hallucinations, excessive sweating, clammy skin, blue lips and nails, confusion, slurred speech, and dizziness. A heat stroke can cause the body’s organs to swell, and can potentially cause permanent damage to these organs. If you suspect that you or someone around you may be having a heat stroke, you should call 911 immediately 2.
What Safety Measures Should You Take While in the Sun?
Although these dangers of the heat can be serious, you can take action to protect yourself by following a few simple steps. Not only is it important to do these things, but also to repeat them continually throughout the duration of your time outdoors.
It might sound like a no-brainer, but continually applying sunscreen is extremely important in the summertime. When you’re at the beach or at the pool, your sunscreen usually wears off after a dip in the water, so remember to reapply frequently.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, you should apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every two hours that you’re in the sun. For ample protection, it’s best to use a broad spectrum sunblock that protects against both UVA and UVB rays 2.
In addition to wearing sunscreen to protect your skin, you should also be wearing proper clothing to shield your skin from the sun. The skin on your face is very delicate (especially around your eyes), so you should always wear sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.
Stay Cool While Working Out
If you choose to get your sweat on outdoors, make sure that you’re choosing an optimal time during the day for your workout. It’s always much cooler in the morning and evening than in the middle of the day, which means that you should avoid the 10am-3pm window—this is when the sun beats down the strongest.
Keep your cool by wearing light colored, lightweight clothing. Don’t opt for a black long-sleeve shirt if you’re going outdoors. Light colored t-shirts, tank tops, and shorts are great options for high temperature workouts.
Listen to your body. Take a break and find a shady spot to rest every once in a while—your body will thank you 3.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Drink up! Whether you’re being active or just laying by the pool, staying hydrated is one of the most important steps to take while doing anything outdoors.
You sweat when you’re in the heat, which means your body loses fluids. Drinking water helps replace these essential fluids and prevent many of the heat-related illnesses discussed earlier.
Drink a glass of water before you leave your house, and fill up re-usable water bottle to bring with you. Even when you’re not thirsty, you should take a drink. In fact, you should be hydrating every 15-20 minutes. Schedule regular water breaks to ensure that you’re getting enough fluids 4.
We Care About Your Health
We want to make sure that your overall health is at its best. Whether it be your safety in the sun, your diet and exercise routine, or your medication regimen—we care.
Want to learn more about MedaCheck’s easy-to-use medication reminder system?
Available as a standalone app, MedaCheck makes sure you take the right dose, at the right time, every time. If you’re a hospital, care center, healthcare organization or home care provider, employer or individual, visit www.medacheck.com.