It might be hard to believe that summer is right around the corner, especially because snow just fell in early May in Minnesota, but warmer temperatures are on the horizon. Young or old, it’s time to address heat safety so you can have an enjoyable summer and avoid heat exhaustion and a murderous sunburn a la The Hangover.
Know your Risks
With temperatures and humidity on the rise, you should know how heat affects your body. Older adults are more prone to succumb to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. It’s more difficult for them to recognize body temperature changes, and certain illnesses change their response to heat. They are also more likely to be on a medication that impacts their ability to regulate temperature. You may not be an older adult, but this is an important reminder to be aware of how your body reacts to the sun. Do you dehydrate easily? Do you get heat rashes from the sun? Are you likely to faint if you get too hot?
This is a reminder that any color is considered skin damage. You might like a bronzy glow for the summer, but it’s a high price to pay and makes you more prone to wrinkles later in life. Each year, people are diagnosed with skin cancer more than any other cancer. So if you want some color, invest in some self-tanner or a spray tan.
If you plan on frolicking in the sun, apply a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection that is SPF 30 or higher and water/sweat resistant. Thoroughly cover all exposed skin about 15 minutes before you head outside. Most people don’t use enough sunscreen, so be generous and don’t forget spots like your ears and the top of your head. Invest in a lip balm that has SPF in it. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming/sweating.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Summer is the time to wear lightweight clothing in light colors. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
Hit the Shade
Stay in the shade when you can.
Pay attention to the heat index. It factors in humidity and temperature to tell you how hot it really feels outside. Especially when heat advisories are out, stay indoors (preferably in an air-conditioned room). If you don’t have air conditioning, visit a public space that does, like the mall, movie theater, or a museum. This is the time of year to enjoy cool showers and baths.
If you have an outdoor adventure planned, remember that the sun’s rays are at their most powerful between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Try to plan your activities in avoidance of this time of day.
Hydrating is extremely important in the summertime. Even if you aren’t thirsty, you need to compensate for the excess fluids you’ll be losing as you sweat. Try to avoid drinks that can dehydrate you, such as alcohol or caffeinated drinks.
Know the Symptoms
Despite your best preparations, you can still be negatively impacted by the heat. Educate yourself on the signs of a heat stroke or heat exhaustion. They usually involved dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Symptoms can escalate to a rapid heartbeat, chest pains, and even fainting.