Summer is fast approaching, which means it is unfortunately time to pack up our sweatpants, gloves, scarves and wool coats. We are all starting to dig out the shorts, bathing suits, and preheating our BBQ's for dinner in the backyard. Life is swell!
Although we go through this every year, I still seem to forget how to do certain things. I need a reminder, or better yet – revised and up-to-date tips on how to keep myself and my family safe during the hot summer months.
Living in New York means extreme temperature and humidity changes from season to season. Winters in New York bring us down to frigid below zero temperatures; Summer is dangerously hot and forget about that humidity! I recently put together a HUGE list of 101 summer activities for families, which had me thinking about how I am going to protect my 3-year-old while we are out enjoying the warmer months here in New York. The summer is meant to be enjoyed from the outdoors, but we need to protect our skin for the longrun before we start having fun!
I decided to put together a useful list of tips to help protect your skin from the hot, sweltering, UV radiating sun over the summer. Keep in mind, I am only giving the basics. It is up to YOU to investigate each of these areas further and decide which plan of attack will work best in your climate.
Here are some helpful tips to keep you and your family safe from the sun over the summer!
Do you know how strong the sun is in your area? I recently discovered a very useful tool courtesy of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The UV Index Tool provides a forecast of the strength of the sun's ultraviolet radiation based on your zip code.
According to the UV Index tool, our local UV Index is 7, which is "HIGH" on a scale of 0-11. The tool suggested that my family use SPF 15+ sunscreen. Try it out today and figure out the best SPF+ sunscreen for your family!
"Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen SPF 15+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical. Reduce your exposure to the sun's most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours." – *EPA UV Index Tool
|Exposure Category||UV Index Range|
|Low||2 or less|
|High||6 – 8|
|Very High||8 – 10|
We all LOVE sunbathing, hanging out on the beach, or enjoying a stroll on te boardwalk on a hot summer day. Sun exposure can be healthy and refreshing for our skin, but we cannot overdo it! Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can result in a painful sunburn.
We are also susceptible to more serious health issues, including skin cancer, immune system suppression, cataracts, and premature aging of our skin. Staying safe in the sun is quite simple – and you can beat the odds against skin cancers with just a few simple precautionary measures!
Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States?
Skin cancer is also the most preventable form of cancer, so why such a common occurrence?
More than two million new cases of skin cancer are reported every year.
By following some simple steps, you can still enjoy your time in the sun and protect yourself from overexposure!
STOP THE BURN!
Sunburns significantly increase the risk of developing skin cancer, especially for children. There is plenty of things you can do to avoid a sunburn. Protecting your children's skin is especially important. Children are at a very high risk of developing skin disease, but we can avoid this by simply applying SPF 15+ every 2 hours. Sunburns are very painful and always seem to keep us up all night (why can't you fall asleep with a beating red sunburn on your back!?). Stop the burn with sunscreen daily!
Avoid tanning beds and sunbathe with moderation!
One bad sunburn from a tanning bed can infame or create a mole, which may develop into melanoma. The UV light from tanning beds causes skin cancer and wrinkling. Sun tanning should be done in moderation with plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin. Prolonged periods of sunbathing may result in significantly painful (and red!) sunburns.
When in water, snow, and sand…
… wear plenty of sunscreen! We often think we are immune to sunburns if we are in water, or if it is cold outside. This is a complete fallacy! Water, snow, and sand actually reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
Apply sunscreen – generously!
Try to plan ahead and apply approximately one ounce of sunscreen to cover exposed skin 20 minutes before you head outside. Always use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 with protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
Reapply every two hours, or immediately following swimming or sweating from the heat. Do not forget to reapply! We always seem to forget, which leads to sunburns. Prevention against skin disease is very simple, but we have to remember to reapply. Keep your sunscreen within your view and only an arms length away so you can see the bottle – and won't forget to apply, apply, and apply!
Vitamin D is your friend
Get Vitamin D safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements and foods fortified with vitamin D. Summertime is a great time to soak up some vitamin D — and there is plenty to go around for everyone! Try to give yourself a nice even mixture of vitamin D through dietary sources and the good ol' sun!
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. A reaction takes place that enables skin cells to manufacture vitamin D when the sun's UVB rays hit your skin. Experts suggest going outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun with shorts and a tank top and no sunscreen if you are fair skinned. This will give you just enough radiation to produce approximately 10,000 IU's (international units) of the vitamin.
Many of us simply lack a sufficient amount of vitamin D from dietary sources, such as fatty fish or fortified milk. Dark-skinned individuals and the elderly also produce less vitamin D. Dietary recommendations are 200 IU's a day for folks under 50-years-old; 400 IU's between ages 50-70; 600 IU's for those that are over 70. However, many experts believe that these recommendations are far too low to maintain healthful vitamin D levels.
So… how much sun do you think is a fair amount for your skin? Do you agree with the governments dietary recommendations?
The sunshine vitamin also provides protection against diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer to the breast, prostate, and colon. We can also count on the sun for protection against insomnia, depression, and an overactive immune system. As corny as it may sound, being in the sun actually puts a smile on our faces!
Wear protective clothing
This may not be easy or practical on hotter and extremely humid days, but try your best to wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and sunglasses when possible.
Check the UV Index
The UV Index provides vital information that can help plan your summer activities in the sun. Use the EPA's UV Index Tool for a local forecast of the sun's ultraviolet radiation based on your zip code. The UV Index forecast is issued daily by the National Weather Service and EPA.
Seek out shady spots
Seek shade whenever possible and give your skin a break! Try to give your skin a break from direct contact with the sweltering sun as often as you can step out of it's view. The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10AM and 4PM, so try to stay in the shade as much as possible during these hours and cover up!
Keep an eye on your skin!
Know your skin from top to bottom so that you are able to identify any new markings. Early detection of melanoma can save your life. A new or changing mole should be evaluated as soon as possible by a dermatologist. Take a few moments to look at your skin (especially during the summer, or after an accidental sunburn!). Try to do this at least once per week while drying your body off after a shower – it won't take too long and might save your life.
Have a Safe & Happy Summer!
About Nicole @ MamaNYC
Nicole is a stay-at-home mom living on the outskirts of Manhattan with her husband and their 3-year-old son. She is also a Graduate student pursuing an MBA, Internet marketing consultant, web and logo designer, and an awesome mom! She loves blogging, anything related to the Internet, and a huge tech gadget geek. You can find Nicole over at MamaNYC for more parenting, product reviews, and giveaways!