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General Healthy Living Seasonal Tips

Tips to stay safe in the summer heat

Summer is right around the corner, and as we grab our beach towels and head outside to enjoy the warm weather, Steward wants to share a few reminders on summer safety precautions so that you and your family can have the happiest and healthiest summer possible.

After an especially cold winter, we’re all ready to soak up some sun. But, it’s critical that we remember that high temperatures and harmful UV rays can cause long-term damage, and in some cases can be life-threatening. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can affect people of all ages, especially if you are engaging in outdoor activities such as exercise or yard work. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include general muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, slurring of words, and abrupt lightness in the head or fainting. Heatstroke is a serious heat-related condition where your body can no longer control its temperature, your cooling mechanism – sweat– shuts down, and your body overheats. Commonly, heatstroke is the result of extended exposure to the sun or physical exertion in high temperatures.

Luckily, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are highly preventable if you take the following precautions:

  • Stay Cool: Take a break from the sun every hour or so and go to a shaded area to ensure your body temperature does not get too high.
  • Apply SPF Every Morning: Sunburns affect your body’s ability to cool itself, so apply sunscreen (SPF-15 or higher) thirty minutes before you head out the door and reapply every couple hours to ensure your skin is protected.
  • Stay Hydrated: Don’t forget your water bottle and make sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids that contain electrolytes, which will allow your body to sweat and cool down throughout the day.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to lose more bodily fluids. Drinking alcohol while you’re in the sun will make you more dehydrated, more quickly.
  • Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes: Wearing light–weight garments will allow ample amounts of air to cool your body.

The sun’s UV rays don’t just increase the risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke– they can also be extremely harmful to your skin. Even on cloudy summer days, prolonged exposure to UV radiation without protection can cause sunburn, sun poisoning, and exponentially increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

To protect your skin and your overall health, it is important you follow a few key steps:

  • Sunscreen: Apply broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen daily. While SPF-15 is ideal for everyday use, grab SPF-30 or higher when your plans include extended activity in the sun. Sunscreen wears off – be sure to reapply every couple of hours, or after you sweat, swim, or towel off. Be sure to check the expiration date on your sunscreen – most sunscreens have a shelf life of no more than three years.
  • Shade: You can reduce risk of skin-damage or skin cancer by staying in the shade. Prop up an umbrella on the beach or set up your summer picnic in a shady spot under a tree.
  • Hats: For maximum protection, wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, ears, and neck.

As your family heads to the beach or the pool, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always check the weather before you go– if it looks like a thunderstorm is on the horizon, try and adjust your plans.
  • Ensure that you and your family swim in designated areas with assigned lifeguards.
  • Never leave children unattended while swimming, and always try to swim with a buddy.
  • Make sure to always put life jackets or other floatation devices on young children. If your child goes missing, always be sure to check the water first.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated– before and after you take a swim.

Lastly, as we enter our third summer with COVID-19, please remember to get vaccinated, boosted, and continue to wear a mask at large gatherings. COVID cases are surging across the country, and taking these preventative measures will help ensure that you, your family, and your larger community will have a healthy, happy summer.

Keeping all of this advice in mind, we hope you have a fun-filled summer season. Please be sure to use these tips to safely enjoy your time in the sun with your loved ones.

If you, a loved one or a stranger may be experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek immediate medical assistance. If you believe you or a loved one may be exhibiting signs of skin cancer, such as irregular moles that change shape or color, or lesions that may appear red, pink, white, blue or blue-black please seek out medical advice. To find a specialist in our network, please visit Steward DoctorFinder™ or call 800-488-5959.

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.