As we face the season’s first big heatwave, a Bancroft NeuroRehab nurse shares tips to protect yourself against the sun’s rays and high heat and humidity.
By Rosalie Knapp, BSN, RN
Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for as little as 15 minutes can cause skin damage and skin cancer, so using sunscreen is critical.
- Use sunscreen of at least SPF 15, even on cloudy days or stay in the shade.
- Sunscreen products with SPF 30 or higher are recommended for individuals performing outdoor work, sports, or recreational activities.
- Apply sunscreen every 2 hours if you are out in the sun and after swimming.
- Sunscreen without expiration dates have a shelf life of 3 years or less but even shorter if the sunscreen has been out in high temperatures.
Wear protective clothing
- A typical T-shirt has an SPF rating of lower than 15. Use other protection as well. A wet T-shirt offers less protection than a dry one.
- Wear a hat with a brim that will shade your face, ear and back of the neck. If wearing a baseball cap, use other protective clothing that will cover the back of your neck.
- Wearing glasses that block both UVA and UVB rays will decrease the risk of cataracts that can be caused by UV rays.
Know the Signs of Heatstroke
Heatstroke is a serious condition that occurs when your body overheats, often because of prolonged exposure or overexertion.
- Muscle cramping might be the first sign
- High body temperature (above 103°F)
- Hot, red, dry or moist skin
- Rapid pulse
- Possibility of unconsciousness
This is a medical emergency; call 9-1-1 if you suspect someone is experiencing heatstroke.
You should move the person to a cooler area, and apply cool cloths to reduce body temperature. Do not give fluids.
Visit the CDC online for more information on summer safety.