Protect Yourself: Sun Safety Tips

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and spend some time in the fresh air. Whether you’re planning picnics, going on hikes, swimming, planting a garden or otherwise, making sure to stay safe in the sun is important for your health and the health of your family members or friends.

Consider these tips when you’re out in the sun this summer:

1. Drink plenty of water. Hydration is important! Recommendations vary, but drinking 8 8-ounce glasses of water per day has been the guideline easiest to remember. Healthy juices and teas contribute to your water intake. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after any strenuous outdoor activity!

2. Apply sunscreen – and reapply often. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck, arms, legs, torso – everywhere exposed to sun. Don’t forget the tops of your feet or your earlobes, and put SPF protection on your lips, as well! Sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher should be reapplied throughout the day, especially when you’re repeatedly entering and exiting bodies of water.

3. Take breaks in the shade. Give your body a break from the harsh rays of the sun. Enjoy lunch in the shade, and read your book under an umbrella from time to time. Interrupting your time in the sun with breaks in the shade can help to prevent serious damage from prolonged exposure.

4. Cover up if your skin is starting to burn. Starting to feel a little tender in spots? Someone point out your nose is getting pink? Cover up, quickly. Slight sunburns can quickly become painful and even blistery if left unnoticed for too long.

5. Wear sunglasses & wide-brimmed hats. Protecting your eyes is critically important during any day spent in the sun. Sun poses a risk not only to the skin surrounding your eyes, but to your eyes, themselves. Left unprotected through many sunny summers, you can suffer from vision loss and even risk developing various cancers in and around your eyes.

6. Wear smart sun apparel. Fact: If you can see sunlight through the fabric of your shirt, that sunlight is reaching your skin. Covering up only works if the clothes you choose are in fact blocking the sun! Tightly woven clothing is a must. Consider fabrics such as linen and cotton that can be both tightly knit yet lightweight, protecting you from the sun while not causing you to overheat, and wash them repeatedly prior to wearing them to shrink them to their tightest knit size (make sure the size you purchase will fit once it shrinks, of course!). As many dyes tend to absorb UV, brightly colored clothes are also safer to wear than pale ones. Wearing layers provides extra protection, as well.

7. Plan your days accordingly. Certainly, most of your barbecues and summer parties will occur in the middle of the afternoon, when the sun is strongest. But you can also take advantage of nice summer weather when the sun is less strong. Plan your hikes early in the morning. Tend to your garden before lunch. Play baseball in the summer evenings. End your day with a swim as the sun is setting. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the summer weather and your favorite summer activities without requiring yourself to be in direct sunlight during the hottest point of the day.

8. Eat snacks that hydrate. We’ve already touched on making sure you drink enough water throughout the day, but don’t forget the foods that can help hydrate you, too! Snacks such as cucumbers, grapes, tomatoes, apples, pears, bell peppers and pineapple provide an abundant amount of water content to help you hydrate during days in the sun.

Protecting yourself while in the sun this summer can help protect you from a variety of medical problems, ranging from minor sunburns and headaches to serious conditions such as sun poisoning and skin cancer. By following the tips above, you can help to protect yourself and your loved ones all season long.