Summer Heat: What You Need to Know About Dehydration and Sunscreen

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After a blistering June for much of the nation, the summer is just getting started. The next two months are typically when temperatures really ramp up. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe in the summer heat and sun.

Excessive heat is the #1 weather-related killer in America

While people tend to be more concerned about tornadoes, flooding, and hurricanes, those aren’t what kill most people in the United States every year. More people die annually from heat in the US compared to any other weather-related fatalities.

According to the NOAA, the number of Americans who die each year to heat is almost twice of those who die in floods, double the number who die from tornadoes, and triple the amount of people who die in tropical storms and hurricanes.

Prevent heat-related death by staying hydrated

The most important step you need to take to stay safe in the summer heat is to ensure you are properly hydrated. Drink more than you think you need to. By the time you begin to feel thirsty, you could already be significantly dehydrated.

The following signs show you that you are becoming dehydrated: Thirst, dry mouth, dark or tea-colored urine or a decrease in urination, dry skin, muscle cramping, fatigue, headache, low blood pressure and constipation.

Steps to prevent or offset dehydration

If you are outdoors in the summer heat and/or direct sunlight, you could be losing more fluids than you realize, as the summer sun drains you of fluids through perspiration. Make to take the following steps:

1. Drink more than the recommended amount of fluids

If you’re out in the sun, you need to go beyond the basic rule of thumb of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day – it may not be enough. If you’re exerting yourself in the heat, you’re probably perspiring. An active person can lose two liters of fluid due to sweat during activity. For a person when 150 pounds, that’s getting close to half their total amount of body water, according to Prevention. Therefore, you’ll need to drink even more water than normal to keep your fluid levels where they are supposed to be.

2. Get extra hydration through foods

Consuming the right fruits and vegetables, which contain high amounts of water, can give you extra hydration.

3. Replenish quickly with sports drinks containing electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals in the body that are lost at a high rate with active perspiration. One way to quickly replenish your fluids and counteract dehydration is to consume sports drinks containing electrolytes.

Sunscreen: When and how to apply

Excessive exposure to direct sunlight can do more than burn you, it can cause skin cancer, as well as can cause wrinkles and long-term damage to your skin. That’s why it’s also good to use sunscreen that contains a dry skin moisturizer. Here are some tips for getting the best protection from sunscreen and when to apply it.

What you need to know about SPF

Some people wrongly believe the SPF rating on sunscreen means time. The SPF rating of sunscreen refers to the amount of UV protection it provides, not how long it lasts. For example, with SPF 30, it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you were wearing no sunscreen. Also, make sure you choose a sunscreen that protects you against both UVB and UVA rays. No matter the SPF rating, YOU MUST reapply sunscreen every two hours for it to remain effective.

Apply sunscreen when you’re in the car, too

Many people don’t take into account the fact of how dangerous the rays of the sun are coming through the side and rear windows of vehicles. While car windshields are manufactured to block both UVB and UVA rays, side and rear windows typically aren’t. The more dangerous UVA rays, which go deeper into the skin, still affect you through side windows, according to Prevention. Scores of people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year as a result of sun exposure while driving or riding. Any time you’re driving during sunny conditions for 30 minutes or more, or even shorter if you’re in an environment like the desert, apply sunscreen to all the skin on whichever side of your body will be exposed.