Summer 101: Sun and Safety Tips

Jesus Rodriguez, MD, Kaiser Permanente Fresno PhysicianJune 28, 2013 

Extreme temperatures are expected to hit the Valley this weekend, but there are ways you and your family can protect yourself during the heat wave. Following some simple tips can ensure you and your loved ones stay safe in the sun.

Cover Up

One of the best ways to be sun safe is to keep an eye on the clock. Try and avoid the sun altogether when the rays are strongest, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Use your shadow as a measure. If it's shorter than your height, it's time to protect yourself from extended exposure.

If you're going to be in direct sunlight, it is essential to wear hats and other protective clothing. Find a hat that has ventilation and a full brim, preferably three inches, to protect your head, face, ears, and neck. Use sunglasses with UV protection for the eyes and surrounding skin.

There are many shirts on the market vented for coolness, and designed for sun protection. T-shirts don't always offer the best protection; they have an SPF of 3 and are not as effective when wet. Choose opaque long-sleeved shirts with a dense weave and pants while outdoors.

Seek the Shade

When you are outside, find trees, or other cool, shady spots—anywhere that doesn't directly expose your skin to the sun. This is a good method to use for picnics, or any activities where you might be outside for several hours. Protecting your skin from the sun is also a good way to prevent wrinkles.

Sunscreens

Sunscreen is also important when keeping safe in the sun. Apply at least two tablespoons (about a palmful) to cover your face, arms and legs about 20 minutes before sun exposure. That means a typical 6oz sunscreen bottle should provide six all-over, thorough applications of sunscreen.

It’s important to make sure you are wearing a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Also, pay attention to the labels on the sunscreen and make sure you choose one with 3% avobenzone or with zinc or titanium dioxide in the list of ingredients.

Remember to reapply sunscreen after every 80 minutes of direct sun exposure, and after swimming, toweling dry or perspiring heavily.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Sodas, sugary drinks and juices are not recommended. Adults should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Children ages 4 to 10 should drink at least 6 to 10 glasses of water to stay hydrated, especially in hot temperatures. Older adults also need to increase their daily water intake to avoid dehydration.

Dehydration can occur at any age, but it’s most dangerous for babies, small children and the elderly.

For more information on ways to stay healthy, visit kp.org/fresno.

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