Bon Secours provides the following summer safety tips to help you be well and make the most of the season.
Keeping cool and hydrated in summer can be trickier than you think. Most people don’t drink enough fluids either before they go out into the warmer weather or while participating in activities.
Hydration is key to avoiding heat-related illnesses
Hydration should begin two to three hours before any activity to be effective. You should have 17-20 ounces of fluid in your system well before your activity. You’ll want to drink another 7-10 ounces 10-20 minutes before the start of the activity and during the activity, drink 7-10 ounces every 20 minutes. Water will meet your need for fluids but you can also have sports drinks. Look for those that have six percent or less carbohydrates. You’ll get a little energy boost without slowing down the emptying of your stomach, which can leave you feeling full. Here’s a known cooling tip: when your shirt gets soaked in sweat, change shirts to help your body cool. After exercising, have 20 ounces of fluid. Sport drinks can be useful here. The water restores your hydration, speeded by electrolytes, while the carbs help restore energy.
Like parents, coaches and event organizers, you should look to the heat and humidity indexes for guidance. If the temperature is between 80-90 degrees and the humidity is less than 70 percent, there are no other special restrictions or considerations around hydration. However, if the humidity goes above 70 percent, you need to ensure that you’re taking in enough fluid and keeping an eye out for heat-related problems, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If the temperature goes above 90 degrees with humidity at less than 70 percent, you will want to limit your outdoor activities. If the humidity goes higher than 70 percent at that high temperature, avoid outdoor activity. The risk for heat-related problems goes up in those conditions.
If you feel tired, are profusely sweaty, cool with clammy skin, have nausea or feel lethargic, you may be suffering heat exhaustion. You need to go to a shady area and cool down immediately. Drink fluids and make sure you see a doctor before getting back into your activities. If you’re not hydrating properly, you’re at risk for heat stroke, a medical emergency in which your ability to cool your body shuts down, your skin gets hot and dry, you can suffer disorientation or a seizure. If you experience those symptoms, get in a submersible ice bath right away to decrease your internal temperature and call 911.
With the threat of skin cancer, sunscreen is a given if you’re planning on spending time outdoors.
The sun accounts for 90 percent of the symptoms of premature skin aging, such as wrinkles and skin cancer. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation in the form of UVB and UVA radiation. UVB radiation affects the outer layer of skin and is responsible for sunburns. UVA radiation penetrates deeper in the skin and contributes to and may initiate skin cancer development. Sunscreen is the most important product you can use to help prevent these problems. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of the amount of UVB absorption but there is no measure of UVA absorption. The only way to know if a sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA radiation is to use a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and contains avobenzone, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
Most people only apply about 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you apply one ounce of sunscreen, or enough to form a “film,” 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. A recent study also suggests that sunscreen is more effective when you reapply it every 20-30 minutes. You should reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating. If you use sunscreen of at least SPF 15 every day, it will be more effective at reducing skin damage than using a sunscreen with a higher SPF intermittently.
Now that you know how to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun, you’re ready to take on summer!