Summertime is here and it’s time for picnics, swimming, and playing outside! But summer can also bring long hours exposed to the sun. In the summer, the sun is already more powerful but when the sun is radiated off of sand, water, and even blacktop concrete, its impact can increase. Protect yourself and others this summer against dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sunburn by learning ways to prevent them.
Staying hydrated by drinking water is an important part of staying healthy, but even more important when it is hot outside. When it is hot outside, your body begins to sweat to cool you off, but when you’re sweating you’re losing water. Running around during recess, or doing activities outside can lead you to even sweat more. Even when you are swimming in a pool, your body is still sweating. Drinking water throughout the day can prevent against being dehydrated. Encourage students to drink water before and after outside play time.
Kids can get heat exhaustion when their bodies can’t cool themselves fast enough. Someone experiencing heat exhaustion might feel overheated, tired, and weak. Heat exhaustion usually results from vigorous physical activity, but can also be a result of not being properly hydrated. If children are left feeling nauseous, weak, or with a headache after playing in the sun, accompany the child into a cooler, shaded area and supply them with liquids.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in America and is also one of the most easily prevented. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that having a few serious sunburns can increase your risk in developing skin cancer. Sunburns are caused by too much exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Anyone and everyone can be put at risk for developing skin cancer. Both people of dark- and light-skin need protection from UV rays because any tanning or burning causes skin damage, and enough of it can lead to skin cancer. While it might look great to be nice and tan this summer, any change in color of your skin from being outside or in a tanning bed is a result of damage from UV rays. Here are some simple ways to protect yourself and others from harmful UV rays:
- The sun is most powerful during the hours of 10am-4pm, plan indoor activities to happen then. If not possible, plan activities outside in a nice shaded area.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses, and long clothing to cover up your skin. Hats can cover the face, neck, scalp, and ears as well as protect them from getting burnt. If possible, wearing long-sleeved shirts or pants can protect more areas of your body from being burnt.
- Wearing, applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater, and reapplying sunscreen every time you go outside can prevent against UV damage. Apply before going outside in all areas that will be exposed to the sun including ears, nose, and tops of feet. Always check that sunscreen has not expired.
- Prevent sun damage any time you go outside, whether it’s sunny or not UV rays can still damage your skin.
- Check your medications. Some medications can make your skin more sensitive and can make it easier to get burnt.
Good news- Skin cancer, dehydration, and heat exhaustion can all be prevented! Take time before going outside to prepare yourself and others by wearing sunscreen, covering up exposed areas of skin, drinking plenty of water, and knowing when it is time to go back inside.