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Quick tips to protect yourself from the sun and late summer heat

By Emilie Poplett | August 13, 2021 | Healthy Lifestyle

Two french bulldogs sit outside wearing sunglasses

One of the best parts of summer is the opportunity to be outdoors, especially in a pandemic year.

For parents, summer is a great time to provide screen-free fun for kids. Time in nature is especially helpful as kids are struggling with their mental health after having their lives disrupted in major ways.

And time outside is great for adults, too. We’ve talked a lot on the blog about how hiking and being in nature can improve mental health.

But the North Carolina heat is no joke, especially in August. We all need to be aware of the risks of sun and heat so we can stay safe outdoors.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Skin

Odds are we all know someone who has been affected by skin cancer. More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with it each year, according to the American Cancer Society, including almost 60,000 people with melanoma — the most serious type.

So it’s important to know how to stay safe in the sun.

When used properly, sunscreen — over 30 SPF — can help prevent skin cancer, skin aging, and sunburn. Here are some steps to remember:

  1. Cover up: Wear sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), hats, sunglasses and protective clothing.
  2. Avoid the sun when it is strongest – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  3. Keep kids under 6 months out of the sun completely.
  4. Tanning beds? Forget them!
  5. Don’t trust the clouds. Cloud Coverage does not protect you from the UV rays that cause skin damage.
UV index chart shows that the current UV index in NC is "very high" and requires extra protection.
Today's UV index in Durham, North Carolina is a 9. Be safe out there!

How to stay safe in the heat

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke pose a risk to anyone who is active in the heat.

Certified Personal Trainer Michelle Rogers wrote about how to exercise safely in the heat – and how to know when you’re in trouble.

A few quick tips from her:

  1. Wear breathable clothing. Lightweight and light colored clothing will help keep you cool.
  2. Stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  3. Exercise in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
  4. Stop if you have symptoms of heat exhaustion. These include feeling weak or dizzy, having a headache or an upset stomach. If you feel these symptoms coming on, get to a cool, air-conditioned location. Always seek medical attention if needed.