Self-Care During the Heat Wave

Temperatures have been breaking records all over the country due to the extreme heat. Not only is it uncomfortable, but triple-digit temperatures can be the cause of illness and even death if you don’t take care of yourself!

Some self-care techniques may seem obvious when you step outside and immediately start sweating. Stay inside where there’s air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and, if you do have to be outside for more than 15 minutes, wear at leastSun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 sunscreen to protect your skin from dangerous sunburns and seek out shady spots and take breaks often. However, there are some facts about self-care in the heat that many are not aware of.

Pools are popular places for residents to go for relief from the heat. The cool water masks the fact that you are still most likely sweating. Also, the pool water can actually focus ultraviolet (UV) rays on to your skin in a more extreme manner than if you were out of the water. So if you think you have less of a chance of getting burned in the pool, think again. Don’t pass up that SPF 30 or greater sunscreen, and apply it often – about every 30 minutes. This also applies to visits to the beach or a lake!

Cloudy, breezy days also seem to encourage folks to come outside. Many people believe that since it is cloudy, their risk for sunburn is diminished. Unfortunately, UV rays easily penetrate even the thickest cloud cover can can burn skin just as quickly as they would on a clear day.

It is true that the best times of the day to be outside in weather like this is in the mornings before 10 a.m. or in the afternoons after 4 p.m. The sun is not high in the sky during these times and UV rays are not as harsh. However, if you are required to be outside for over one hour during the heat of the day, wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat will give you the greatest protection. It sounds backwards, but the clothing will protect your skin and will also help absorb moisture from sweat. In this case, it is essential to stop and drink water every 10 – 15 minutes to lessen the chances of experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It used to be common thought that sugar and caffeine found in sodas and other drinks actually dehydrated the body, but this has been found to be false. However, experts still agree that water is the best option for hydration in temperatures this hot.

It looks like the heat is here to stay for a while, but using the self-care tips outlined above, you and your family can navigate the summer free of sunburns and heat illness.

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