Finally! Summer is here, school is out, and the sun is shining. It’s time to decompress and reconnect with family, friends, nature, and oneself through fun outdoor activities and experiences. Do not let heat and sun ruin the fun. Come prepared!
Sizzlin’ Hot – Heat Protection
Elevated heat conditions cause over 600 deaths per year according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Older individuals, children, and people with chronic health conditions (for example, obesity, heart disease, and mental illness) have a higher risk of complication from heat exposure. While high-risk folks require close surveillance when exposed to heat, every person should take precautions to prevent and monitor for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
Drink up! Thirst is a later sign of dehydration. Do not wait until feeling thirsty to chug a bottle. Drink water consistently throughout the day. Don’t like water? Try water enhancers or fresh cut cucumbers and lemon in your drink to add a little flavor. Simple Truth® Raspberry Lemonade is my personal favorite.
Caution with the cocktails. Alcohol pulls water out of the body accelerating dehydration and meanwhile, gives the illusion that thirst is being quenched with a nice cold beverage. Be careful of alcohol’s dehydration and its carefree effects that inhibit an individual’s ability to recognize early signs and symptoms of overexposure to heat and sun. Enjoy an umbrella drink, or alcoholic beverage of choice, but take it slow and drink glasses of water in between. In extreme heat, it is best to set aside the adult beverages all together.
Keep it cool. Keep airflow going with a fan and cool off with a mister. Take time outs in an air-conditioned room to cool down. For periods of extreme heat, do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device, especially if high risk for complications. Wear loose, breathable and light-colored clothing to decrease trapping additional heat and promote airflow.
Slow down. Take a break or slow down with sports and workouts in the heat. Take frequent water breaks, lower the intensity and length, and time physical activity early morning or late evening avoiding peak sun times.
Never confine. Never leave people or pets in the car. The temperature within a car can rise fast and furiously. Even when its blue sky and 70 degrees, the temperature can climb to 110 degrees quickly. Do not be a fool, cracking windows won’t help the greenhouse effect. A quick 10-minute trip can lead to around a 20-degree leap creating perfect conditions for heat stroke. Check out this chart highlighting estimated vehicle interior air temperature vs. elapsed time
Look before you lock! Set safeguards to trigger a backseat scan for families with young children. According to KidsAndCars.org™, an average of 38 deaths occur due to child vehicular heatstroke deaths each year. Put a workbag, purse, or left shoe in the backseat with the child so the backseat door is opened to collect belongings before leaving the parked car for the day. Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up on time. Life is busy. People get tired. Don’t succumb to fatal distractions, #lookbeforeyoulock. Warning: Prepare for stomach knots and tears. The KidsAndCars.org™ is a fantastic website creating awareness around leaving children in cars knowingly or unknowingly. However, the stories are heartbreaking. Brace yourself.
Oh, Sunny Days – Skin Protection
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer that gets the most press and rightly so. While the average age of people diagnosed with melanoma is 63, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially young women. Melanoma has doubled over the past 30 years in the United States. Even if you’re not red-headed and freckled with fair skin, you can still get skin cancer.
Use sunscreen. Select a waterproof, not just water resistant, sunscreen 30 SPF or higher. While a higher SPF number provides more protection, the increased protection after 30 SPF jump. The key is to reply the 30+ SPF sunscreen every 1.5 to 2 hours. The sunscreen bottle should be broad spectrum stating that it protects against UVA & UVB rays.
Avoid sun exposure. Steer clear of direct sunlight 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when possible. If in the sun, especially during peak hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in addition to routine application of sunscreen, use a swim shirt or bring an umbrella. And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses to protect your noggin and eyesight!
Stop tanning beds. The Melanoma Research Alliance cites that tanning bed use increases risk for melanoma by 75%. This is a staggering statistic! Do not entertain myths, such as getting a base tan from a bed to prevent burning on a beach. Melanoma is the #1 most diagnosed cancer in individuals ages 25 to 29 in the United States with a higher prevalence in women. Coincidence? Doubt it.
A week after celebrating my 31st birthday, I was tagged with my first melanoma lesion. Protection from skin cancer is near and dear to my heart. So hear my final plea as a patient, parent, and practitioner: Protect yourself, say no to tanning beds, perform routine skin self-assessments, and get screened at least once yearly as part of the annual physical or by a dermatologist. Consult a clinic practitioner, primary care provider, or dermatologist early on if you have a suspicious freckle or mole.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.