It’s summer time and while it’s a popular time to do outdoor activities with the family, it’s important to remember outdoor safety. Two highly important safety tips in the summer time consist of sun protection and staying hydrated.
Sun protection is more than the SPF grade of a sunscreen. Does using a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 mean you are far better protected from harmful sun rays than a sunscreen with an SPF of 15? No, it does not! SPF stands for sun protection factor. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 does not provide double the protection than a sunscreen with an SPF of 15. Here's a calculation of how SPF is measured: minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time. For example, if you burn after 10 minutes, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will allow you to stay in the sun for 150 minutes. Please keep in mind, this is just a guide. Most people use far less sunscreen than actually needed for that calculation to be accurate. You should use 1-ounce each time you apply, which is the amount that would fill a shot glass.
There are two types of rays that can be harmful to our skin when overly exposed:
- UVB rays effect the outermost layer of your skin, also known as the epidermis, and causes sunburn.
- UVA rays effect the deeper layer of skin, also known as the dermis, and causes premature aging of your skin.
BOTH UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer! The best sunscreens offer protection from both UVA and UVB and are referred to as broad-spectrum sunscreens. Rather than focusing more on the SPF of the sunscreen, do the following to ensure you are protecting your skin from sun damage:
- Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply 30 minutes before going outside and being exposed to the sun!
- Re-apply every two hours and every time after sweating and getting wet (You have to reapply after getting wet!) Legally, sunscreens cannot be labeled as sweat or waterproof.
- Keep in mind that sun rays reflect off of concrete, water and sand making it even more important to use sunscreen!
- Yes, you can get sunburned even when it is cloudy! UV rays can and do pass through clouds.
- Examine your skin head to toe every month. If you ever notice a spot on your skin that looks suspicious (i.e. change in color, size, shape, etc.) have it looked at by your physician.
Don’t think that sunscreen is the only option or the best option for sun protection. Always use a combination of shade and protective clothing (choose clothing with UPF labels which stands for ultraviolet protection factor). A shirt with a UPF label of 50 only allows for 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to reach your skin compared to a UPF of about 5 for a plain white shirt.
Always remember to hydrate! Does that mean you have to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day? Not necessarily! That is a misconception that is not supported by scientific evidence. Recommended water intake varies for each individual depending on size and condition of the person, amount of physical activity and the environment in which that person lives. Here are things to remember when it comes to drinking enough water to stay properly hydrated:
- When you’re thirsty, drink water.
- After physical activity and sweating, drink water to replenish fluid loss.
- Make sure you’re going to the bathroom at least 4 times a day.
- Your urine color should be a pale yellow to clear color.
- Pale yellow to clear indicates being well-hydrated.
- Light yellow and transparent also indicate being well-hydrated.
- Pale yellow indicates normal hydration, but you may need to hydrate more soon.
- A yellow or cloudy color means your body needs water.
- A dark yellow/amber color means your body needs water.
- An orange, yellow and darker color means severely dehydrated. Contact your provider.
Keep these tips in mind to make sure you have a fun and safe summer with the family!