Practicing Safety In The Summer Sun

LINCOLN – With more time being spent outdoors, Summer Sun Safety Month is in full effect during the month of August.

According to a release from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), whether swimming in the pool, going to the beach or strolling in the park, summer can be the best time of year. However, people should be aware of the danger of prolonged sun exposure.

Sunlight is essential to the body since it produces Vitamin D. However, too much sunshine can cause harmful effects on the skin and eyes. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (U.V.) light causes most skin cancers; protection from U.V. rays is necessary, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunglasses shield the sensitive skin around the eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts and eye cancer. Sunglasses should block at least 99% of U.V.A. and U.V.B. rays.

To protect the skin, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (S.P.F.) value of 30 or higher and reapply it every two hours, or every one hour if swimming. A wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants or skirts to cover up as much as possible is a good idea, as well as using an umbrella. Enjoy the summer but under the direct sun, taking care of the body’s largest organ (the skin) is necessary to stay healthy.

Additionally in the summer, hydration is important because people lose fluids quickly in the sun; thirst is a body’s way of saying it’s dehydrated. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends active people consume at least 16 to 20 ounces of fluids one to two hours before any outdoor activity. Afterwards, 6 to 12 ounces of fluids every 10 to 15 minutes should be consumed while a person remains outside.

Not all of that fluid has to be water intake; fluid from water-rich foods will help reach any hydration goal. Whole, nutrient-rich foods and beverages also count toward fluid intake. However, alcohol and soda are dehydrating and should be consumed on a limited basis.

Finally, be aware of your surroundings. Insect repellent will make any outdoor time more enjoyable. Practice water safety by using lifejackets and always swimming with a partner. Never leave children unattended in any water area, as drowning can happen within seconds. When running errands during the summer months, leave a cellphone or purse in the back seat if children or pets are in the vehicle as a reminder to check the vehicle before exiting.

Enjoy the summer with family and friends; enjoy the great outdoors, but take simple, common-sense precautions to make it accident free.