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Heat safety awareness: 6 tips to stay cool and safe this summer

As the weather gets warmer, no doubt many of us will be flocking to patios, beaches, and backyard decks to soak up that sun we’ve missed so much. We deserve it, right? Well, sure. But proceed with caution....

Heat Safety Awareness tips

As the weather gets warmer, no doubt many of us will be flocking to patios, beaches, and backyard decks to soak up that sun we’ve missed so much. We deserve it, right? Well, sure. But proceed with caution.

While a bit of sun is a great way to get a natural dose of vitamin D, it’s important to minimize our exposure, stay hydrated and avoid peak hours outsideespecially during particularly hot days.

So before summer is in full swing, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the following heat-related safety tips:

1. Don’t leave home without a water bottle

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You’ve heard it before, and you will likely hear it again. (And again.) But one of the most important things you can do during the hot summer months ensures your body is getting enough water to replenish what it loses while sweating. Whether your work keeps you outdoors or if you simply like to take long summer walks, it’s imperative you drink enough fluids to stay hydrated.

If you’re concerned about what all these plastic water bottles are doing to the environment, why not splurge on an eco-friendly bottle? Sure, they may seem a tad pricey, but imagine how much money you’ve spent buying the plastic ones over the course of your lifetime.

2. Do avoid quenching your thirst with beer or iced coffee

Coffee and ice. Patio and beer. Two seemingly perfect ways to keep cool this summer. Unfortunately, the reality is that both coffee and beer are diuretics, which can result in dehydration. (Don’t shoot the messenger.)

How about this? Commit to drinking one cup of water for each caffeinated drink or alcoholic beverage you drink this summer. So you can still have your beer, and drink it too. Fair? Fair.

3. Don’t forget to wear a waterproof sunscreen and re-apply as needed

If, like most humans, you sweat when you are hot, waterproof sunscreen will do a better job of keeping you protected than the regular stuff. (Note, however, that any sunscreen that promises 100% protection against sweat or water should not be trusted.)

And what’s the deal with all those different SPFs? Ranging anywhere from 15 to 110, it can be confusing to know which is right for you. Well, we’ve just made it easy. Take a look at the table below, and you’ll see there’s no need to spend your hard-earned cash on expensive, high-SPF sunscreens. If you want to get the most out of your sunscreen, simply re-apply every two hours or directly after going for a swim or sweating profusely.

SPF Blocks % of UVB rays
15 94
30 97
45 98

(Source: WebMD, High-SPF Sunscreens: Are They Better?)

A final note: It’s a common misconception that darker skin tones are not susceptible to sunburns in the same way those with white or fair skin may be. In fact, those with black or brown skin are more vulnerable to a particularly dangerous form of melanoma that affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and should be regularly applying sunscreen that is developed for their skin specifically.

4. Do stay inside during peak hours

I know, I know. Who wants to stay inside when the weather is gorgeous? Unfortunately, the sun is not always our friend, so it is recommended to avoid time outside during peak hours during really hot days.

When it comes to things like outdoor sports, bike rides or long walks, try sticking to the early morning or evening instead. If, due to work or scheduled activities, you cannot avoid being outside during the day, do be sure to take short breaks often and stay in the shade when you can. And make it a rule to drink a cup of water every 20-30 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

5. Don’t leave your sunglasses and wide-brimmed hat at home

Too much exposure to both UV rays and glare can do some pretty major damage to our eyes, so grab yourself a pair of UV-resistant, polarized sunglasses this season. And no, a cloudy day doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun’s raysunfortunately, clouds don’t do much to protect us from UV.

So whether rain or shine, make an effort to protect your eyes from the sun while you are still young to prevent things like cataracts, growths that appear on the eye, and skin cancer on the eyelids.

Remember that UV damage occurs in early childhood, accumulates over time and is irreversible. And for the record, your most stylin’ sunhat is more than just a fashion statement. It’s added protection for your eyes, and it also helps shield your face, ears and back of your neck from the sun.

6. Do familiarize yourself with the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke

Understanding the signs of heat exhaustion (and taking the necessary measures if it happens to you) is the best way to avoid a more serious diagnosis of heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include dark-coloured urine, dizziness or fainting, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Find a full list of symptoms here.

If you notice that time spent in the heat is followed by any of these symptoms, get out of the sun immediately, head somewhere cool, get rest and hydrate. If you see no improvement to your symptoms after 15 minutes, it is best to head to the nearest emergency room in case you are dealing with heat stroke, which can result in loss of consciousness and cause damage to your brain.

Heat safety should be on everyone’s radar as summer approaches. So let’s do what we can to keep cool and stay safe.

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