Top Safety Tips for Keeping Cool in the Summer Heat
Summertime usually means spending more time outdoors and trying out new activities. However, our fun in the sun can take a dangerous turn if we don’t pay attention to how our bodies react to the sun and rising temperatures. Temperature records are constantly being broken across the country, so it’s important to know how to protect ourselves in the heat. Learn how to recognize the signs of sun overexposure and how to stay safe even in record temperatures.
Heat Illnesses and UV Radiation
Staying safe in the sun means paying attention to both the heat and UV ray exposure.
Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure
The two types of UV rays that we’re exposed to as a result of our time outdoors are UVA and UVB. UVB rays affect the top layer of skin, causing most sunburns and the greatest risk for skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause wrinkles and premature skin aging with prolonged exposure.1
Both types of radiation can also affect the composition of the skin’s microbiome.2
Heat Exhaustion and Sunstroke/Heatstroke
In addition to watching out for UV exposure, spending long periods of time outdoors can increase your risk of heat illnesses. Two major heat illnesses include heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body overheats itself and cannot cool down, usually after exercise outdoors or exposure to high temperatures.
Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, dizziness or headache, tiredness, fainting, clammy skin, or a fast and weak pulse.
If someone is experiencing heat exhaustion symptoms for over an hour or worsening symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Heatstroke or sunstroke is more severe and can cause high body temperature (103F or higher), confusion, a fast, strong pulse, and loss of consciousness in addition to heat exhaustion symptoms.
In the case of heat stroke, call paramedics immediately. Move the affected person to a cooler place and cool their bodies externally with cool clothes or a cool bath. Avoid giving them anything to drink.3
Tips for Protecting Against Sunstroke and UV Rays
Staying safe in hotter weather doesn’t have to feel intimidating – there are many easy things that you can do to stay cool and protected during the summer:
Choose moisturizers, lip balms, and other skincare/makeup products with SPF protection built-in.
During the summer, wear loose and light-colored clothing made from natural fibers to stay cool. Look for UV protective clothing for extra protection.
Wear reef-safe sunscreen when going outdoors and reapply every two hours for optimal protection.
Drink more water during the summer months to avoid dehydration. If you are sweating, add beverages that have electrolytes to your routine.
Alternate time in the sun with time in shaded areas or use a shade umbrella when outdoors.
If you exercise outdoors, time your workouts to be early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the hottest temperatures.
Air conditioning is a well-known factor against heat wave deaths and can keep your home cool
Keep cool and hydrated with refreshing fruits like watermelon, strawberries, and oranges; eat veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, and broccoli; and choose salads, yogurt, and light summer soups with meals.
D'Orazio, J., Jarrett, S., Amaro-Ortiz, A., & Scott, T. (2013). International journal of molecular sciences, 14(6), 12222–12248. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms140612222
Burns, E. M., Ahmed, H., Isedeh, P. N., Kohli, I., Van Der Pol, W., Shaheen, A., Muzaffar, A. F., Al-Sadek, C., Foy, T. M., Abdelgawwad, M. S., Huda, S., Lim, H. W., Hamzavi, I., Bae, S., Morrow, C. D., Elmets, C. A., & Yusuf, N. (2019). Experimental dermatology, 28(2), 136–141. https://doi.org/10.1111/exd.13854