After a long Michigan winter many of us are looking forward to enjoying the warm summer sunshine! Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy everything that our community has to offer.
Here are a few important sun protection reminders to help keep you safe over the summer:
You’ve probably heard the advice to “wear sunscreen” at least 100 times. So, you put on sunscreen every single time you leave the house, even in the winter, right? Me neither. Here are some helpful tips from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help us all remember ways to stay protected from the sun.
Wear Sunscreen (we said it again):
Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to all exposed skin (don’t forget your lips and ears!) before leaving the house – don’t wait until you are already in the sun. Reapply every 2 hours.
Make sure to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. What exactly is SPF? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. SPF is a measure of how well the product will protect your skin, when applied correctly. Choose an SPF that will protect you against both types of harmful sun rays – UVA and UVB.
Remember that sunscreen isn’t just for warm summer days! The sun’s rays can reach your skin during the rest of year too, even on cloudy days. Make sure to always use extra caution when you are near snow, water, or sand – all of which can reflect the sun’s harmful rays and cause damage to your skin.
Do Not Burn! Burning can significantly increase your risk for skin cancer. Protecting your skin is important for people of all ages, but especially important for children. Make sure that everyone if your family wears sunscreen and avoids tanning beds.
Better Yet, Avoid the Sun
Stay in the shade whenever possible. Remember that the sun’s rays are most powerful (and most harmful) between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Whenever possible, avoid direct exposure to the sun during this time. If you do need to be out in the sun, wear protective clothing. Wear items such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and wide-brimmed hats. And don’t forget to protect your eyes! Look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.
Check the UV Index
The UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities. It forecasts the strength of the sun’s harmful rays. The higher the number, the greater the chance of sun damage. You can use the UV Index to prevent sun overexposure. The index uses a scale from 1-11, where 1 is Low and 11 and Extreme. The UV Index forecast is provided daily by the National Weather Service and EPA. Click here for more information on how to use the UV Index Scale.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
You are now protected against the sun (you remembered your sunscreen, right?), but what about the heat?? Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke can be very dangerous, even deadly, so the warning signs should be taken seriously. Heat Exhaustion can start slowly and can turn into Heat Stroke if not treated quickly. Be on the lookout for the following signs or symptoms:
|Increased thirst||Headache||Severe headache||Weakness, dizziness|
|Muscle Cramps||Nausea and Vomiting||Flushed, hot skin||Loss of consciousness|
|Cool, clammy skin||Elevated body temperature up to 105 degrees||Rapid breathing & heartbeat||Elevated body temperature over 105 degrees|
If you suspect that someone has Heat Stroke, seek emergency medical attention immediately! If you are with someone who has Heat Exhaustion, or you are waiting for medical attention for someone with Heat Stroke, try the following:
- Bring the person indoors or into a shady area immediately
- Undress the person and place in cool bath or spray with a hose, if possible
- Have them lie down with their feet slightly elevated
- If they are alert, have them take sips or cool, clear fluids
- If they are vomiting, turn to their side to avoid choking
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are preventable. Here are some helpful things for you and your family to remember:
- Drink plenty of water (even if you aren’t thirsty) before doing any activities in the sun or heat
- Do not participate in strenuous outdoor activities during the hottest hours of the day
- Come inside immediately if you feel overheated
Games and Activities
Help your family learn more about staying safe this summer with these fun Sun Protection activities!
- SunWise Coloring Sheets
- Mission: SunWise Activity Book
- Sun Safety Videos
- Sun Safety Family Activities
- Environmental Working Group (EWG) Publishes 2013 Guide to Sunscreens (medicationhealthnews.wordpress.com)
- How to Beat the Heat! (chkdsportsmed.com)
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