Katie Gorodetsky, WIC's Immunization Coordinator
At last, summer is here and the warm weather means we can finally head outside to enjoy those barbeques, picnics, and beach days. But while time in the sun lets our bodies absorb vitamin D – which is necessary for strong, healthy bones – too much unprotected sun exposure can be harmful and lead to things like skin and eye damage, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and even skin cancer.
Before you and your family head outside for some fun in the sun, be sure to review these simple tips on how to protect yourself during these warmer months.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible. At the beach, use an umbrella!
- Cover up! Wear hats to shade your ears, neck, and face and long sleeve shirts and pants that are not see-through when held up to light.
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself well-hydrated in order to avoid heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea, weakness, weak pulse, disorientation, fainting, and cold sweat. Heat stroke can develop if these symptoms are allowed to continue and can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening.
- Use a sunscreen of 30 SPF or more, and remember to reapply generously to the entire body every two hours – don’t forget the ears, behind the knees, and under bathing suit straps! Remember, the sun’s rays are harshest between 10am and 4pm.
- If your children are going to be swimming or exposed to water, make sure they are wearing waterproof sunscreen; damaging rays can reflect off the water’s surface and cause a burn.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light.
- Infants under 6 months have very thin skin and should not wear sunscreen. Keep them in the shade whenever possible (like under a beach umbrella). If a baby is going to be exposed to sunlight, make sure every part of their body is covered in clothing and their face is shaded with a hat.
- Always avoid tanning booths. Teach your kids to appreciate the beauty of their natural skin tone!
Limit your time in direct sunlight whenever possible to prevent skin damage and health risks, and lead by example. Children will respond better when they see their parents being safe too. For more information on sun safety, visit http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/children.htm.