All the Tips You Need to Stay Safe This Summer
Summer’s here. Think ice cream, think seaside, think strawberries and cream! This is the happy season when we tend to get plenty of vitamin D from longer spells of sunshine. It’s also a time when we need to be mindful of and alert to some of the dangers that too much heat and sun can do to our bodies. We’ve put together a helpful guide with all the top tips you need to keep safe in the sun over the summer months. Read on for the lowdown.
Precautions to Keep Safe in the Sun
It’s a fact that sunburn can increase your risk of getting skin cancer. Sunburn is not something that just happens on holidays abroad. You can burn in Ireland, even when it’s overcast.
You should aim to spend time in shady spots when the sun is strongest. In Ireland, that’s between 11 am and 3 pm from March through to October. To ensure that you never burn:
- Cover yourself with appropriate clothing and wear sunglasses
- Use a sun cream that’s at least Factor 30
Remember that most sunscreen has a shelf life of between 2 and 3 years. Double-check that any that you plan to use is not beyond its expiry date.
The sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection. SPF ratings range from 2 to 50+ depending on the level of protection they provide, with 50+ offering the most.
Most people tend not to apply sufficient sunscreen. As a rule of thumb, older adults should aim to apply around:
- 2 teaspoons of sunscreen for exposed areas of the head, neck, ears and arms
- 2 tablespoons for the entire body
If you apply sunscreen too thinly, there’ll be a reduction in the amount of protection it can give. You should apply it twice: half an hour before you go out and then again immediately before you head outside. Always read the sunscreen instructions carefully.
Safety Tips For Your Eyes and Body
A day out on a sunny day in Summer without wearing the right eye protection can lead to a temporary but painful burn to the eye’s surface. It’s similar to sunburn. Reflected sunlight from sand, concrete and water is especially dangerous.
You should try to never look directly at the sun because this can cause permanent eye damage. It’s always best to wear clothes and sunglasses that offer sun protection. These include:
- Sunglasses with wraparound lenses or wide arms
- A wide-brimmed hat for providing shade to the ears, neck and face
- Trousers or a long skirt made from fabrics that block out sunlight
- Long-sleeved tops
Why Older People Should Take Extra Care in the Sun
The skin of older people tends to be more fragile so it’s important that you pay more attention if you’re looking after someone who’s elderly or if you’re elderly yourself. A lot of Irish people also tend to have pale, white skin as well as freckles and red or fair hair. They too need to take extra care.
You should also be more mindful of the sun if you are:
- Prone to burning rather than tanning
- Have lots of moles
- Have skin problems connected to a medical condition
- There’s a history of skin cancer in your family
The darker the natural colour of your skin, the more protection you may have against UV rays. If you have a lot of freckles or moles, you’re also at a higher risk of skin cancer than average. Keep a watchful eye out for any changes to your skin. Look out for:
- Any new moles or growths or lumps
- Any moles, freckles or patches of skin that alter their shape, size, or colour
Always consult your doctor about these kinds of changes as quickly as possible. Skin cancer tends to be much easier to treat if it’s spotted early.
Safety Tips to Prevent Heat Exhaustion
Periods of hot weather mean there’s a higher risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. The elderly and those with long-term health conditions such as diabetes or heart problems are particularly at risk of heat problems. There is plenty you can do to prevent them from happening. This includes:
- Drinking plenty of cold drinks, especially water
- Taking a cool bath or shower
- Wearing light-coloured and loose clothing
- Sprinkling cool water over the skin or clothes
- Rubbing an ice cube over the face and mouth
- Avoiding alcohol
Signs of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, feeling sick, excessive sweating, cramps and feeling thirsty.
If you think you might be suffering from a heat condition, always move to a cooler place. Lie down with your feet raised slightly. Drink plenty of water and cool down with a sponge or cold pack.
Enjoy the Summer Months and the Sun!
Summer is a great opportunity to spend more time outdoors when the temperature is warmer and the days are longer. Provided you keep safe in the sun, there’s no reason not to make the most of the hotter months.
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