Velocity Care explains what you need to know about the dangers and warning signs of too much sun exposure
You’ve packed your picnic basket and made sure you have all the equipment necessary for fun in the sun. While you are making plans to spend more time outdoors this summer, don’t forget about safety.
Small amounts of sun exposure are essential for the production of vitamin D. However, too much time in the sun can lead to sunburn, diseases and even death. Make sure you stay safe when enjoying yourself outdoors.
What are the signs of heat-related illness?
When your body does not cool itself properly, it can lead to heat-related sickness. In severe situations, it is vital to get victims to an urgent care facility, walk-in clinic or other medical provider right away.
Heat-related illness does not occur suddenly. There are usually stages, which can increase as the temperature rises. Know the symptoms to look for to keep your family, friends and yourself safe.
- Excessive thirst. This is your body’s way of telling you that you are mildly dehydrated.
- Muscle cramps and pain. This typically occurs due to loss of salt and water from sweating.
- Heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include pale skin, headache, nausea and dizziness.
- Sunstroke (sometimes called heatstroke). This is a life-threatening condition with varying signs, including vomiting, confusion, high body temperature, seizures and loss of consciousness.
How to protect yourself and stay safe
Guarding yourself from the sun does not mean you must stay indoors during the daytime. However, it does mean that when you are outside, you should take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from sun exposure.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, particularly if you are exercising or performing other strenuous activities, even when you don’t feel thirsty. You should avoid drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
- Reduce your risk for heat-related illnesses by being smart. Schedule vigorous activities during times when it is cooler, such as early in the morning or at dusk. Also, take regular breaks when out in the sun, and during midday, find things to do indoors as much as possible.
- Wear protective clothing. Look for fabrics that are light and comfortable to wear in warm weather, but be sure that you can’t see through the fabric when it is held up to a light. Get a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes and surrounding skin. You can also use an umbrella.
- Find shady areas. It is vital to limit your time in direct sunlight, especially when the sun is at its peak, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. A good rule of thumb: If your shadow is shorter than you, then the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
- Use sunscreen. Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or higher and don’t forget your lips. Be generous in applying it to all unprotected skin and reapply every two hours. It is important to remember that sunscreen is not foolproof and should not be used as an excuse to bake in the sun irresponsibly.
- Don’t be fooled by clouds. The sun is still present on days that are overcast. It is possible for dangerous UV rays to penetrate clouds.
- Avoid artificial sun sources. Instruments like sun lamps and tanning beds use UV light that can damage your skin.
If you or someone you care about experiences sunburn or other sun and heat-related issues, Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center has board-certified physicians standing by to provide professional, efficient care without the long waiting time. Visit one of our walk-in clinics today for the best treatment options.
Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo
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