Summer sun safety tips

(Photo from the Alabama Cooperative Extension)

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Warm weather naturally allows people to engage in outdoor activities, such as barbecues, sports, hiking or camping; yet warm weather can bring its share of troubles that include hurricanes, insect or animal bites, outdoor injuries or overexposure to the sun. While it is impossible to predict future challenges, we can use safety strategies to protect ourselves from the harmful rays of the sun.

Effects of the Sun

The sun has beneficial and harmful effects on human health. One of the best reasons for sunlight is to boost Vitamin D. This vitamin helps strengthen bones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ultraviolet radiation (UVR) waves from the sun can cause sunburns and skin cancer and can lead to heat stress-related illnesses if people stay in the sun too long. Heat-related illnesses include heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, sunburn and heat rash. All are preventable when protecting oneself from the sun.

Sun Protection

The CDC strongly urges people to protect themselves when outside in the sun. Consider the following tips to avoid overexposure to harmful UV rays.

  • Plan outdoor activities prior to 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. If the hottest portion of the day cannot be avoided, then wear clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and dark, tightly woven, long-sleeved shirts and long pants for added protection.
  • Purchase sunglasses that provide 100 percent protection from UV rays.
  • Apply sunscreen products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher to avoid sunburns and potential cancer threats.
  • Find cool and shady places for comfort.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated but avoid alcohol or sugary drinks.

Enjoy the warm weather but remember to work and play smart to avoid serious health problems due to sun or high heat-related threats.