With summer fast approaching it’s important to start thinking about sun protection and safety. Excessive sun exposure can cause sunburn, skin damage, skin cancer, cataracts, and heat stroke. These are just some of the reasons why it’s so important to take precautions when spending time in the sun. That and you don’t want to end up with an embarrassing tan line somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Time of day:

The sun’s rays are most powerful during the hours from 11 am to 4 pm. It is best if you can make your outdoor plans before 11 or after 4pm whenever possible, avoiding the hottest time of the day. If you have to be outside during these hours, then take extra precaution against the sun and the heat. The tips below will help with this.

Shade:

Seek shade from trees, awnings or buildings wherever possible. If no shade is available wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and shoulders, and always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. When a hat isn’t available, try an umbrella. You may feel silly using it in the summer, but you’ll feel considerably cooler and at less risk for sunburn, heat stroke and other heat related ailments. Sometimes looking silly pays off when you’re the only one without sunburn.

Clothing:

Wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Light layers of clothing work best, in pale colors which reflect heat, rather than dark ones, which absorb it. If you’ve ever been outside in a black t-shirt, you’ll know why light colors are best. Cotton or lightweight synthetics work best when selecting which items in your closet to wear, and shirts with collars help protect your neck.

Sunscreen:

Start ahead of time with sunscreen application. Ideally, begin applying sunscreen at least a half hour before you go out. It takes approximately 20 minutes for sunscreen to become effective after it has been applied. SPF 15 or higher is recommended. Reapply sunscreen to exposed sites 15 to 30 minutes after sun exposure begins and then every two hours, especially after vigorous activity or sweating. Don’t rely on “waterproof” sunscreen to always last through the sweat and the water. Reapply to be sure you are covered. Don’t forget about your scalp and lips, which are often forgotten when considering sun protection. Please note: sunscreen should not be applied on an infant under the age of six months.

What precautions do you take during the summertime heat?