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5 Strategies for Staying Safe in the Summer Heat

Tips for staying safe in the summer sun

With the onset of summer weather, heat waves will both strengthen and lengthen. But that doesn’t mean that an older adult has to hole up in their home and crank up the air conditioning—quite the opposite, actually. Spending time outside can bestow a number of research-backed benefits including mood enhancement, an improved ability to concentrate, elevated vitamin D levels (which helps guard against osteoporosis and cancer) and even faster healing and recovery times.

No matter what your age, the key is to plan outdoor odysseys carefully.

Here are 5 tips for staying safe in the summer sun:

  • Slather on sunscreen early and often: Dermatologists suggest applying at least an entire ounce (the size of a shot glass) of water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) a full half-hour before venturing outdoors in the summer. Reapply this same amount every two hours that you’re out in the sun. Remember to put extra protection on often overlooked areas of the body including, the lips, hands, feet, tops of the ears, and any bald spots.
  • Dress for the occasion: The trick to staying cool during summer temperature surges is to don clothing that is loose-fitting and made from tightly-woven fabric. Some clothing lines also carry an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating. These designations highlight how protective the fabric of a particular piece of clothing is against ultraviolet radiation from the sun. UPF ratings can range from 15 to 50+. The higher the number, the more radiation that is blocked by the material. For example, a UPF of 50 means that the fabric lets in about 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays. A particular piece of clothing must have a UPF of at least 15 to be deemed “sun-protective.” However if you are planning on spending any length of time outside in the sun, the Skin Cancer Foundation advises wearing clothing with a UPF of at least 30.
  • Invest in the right accessories: A loosely-woven hat with a brim at least 10 centimeters wide is ideal for shielding your head from harmful sun exposure. Also, research has linked excessive sun exposure to a host of eye ailments including: age-related macular degeneration, cancerous growths and cataracts. To protect your eyes from damage, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests seeking sunglasses that are wraparound in style and carry the designation “UV400″ or “100 percent UV protection.”
  • Think creatively about hydration: Depending on the person, the traditional maxim of eight glasses of water per day may or may not apply. Instead of weighing down a cooler with a bunch of water, try swapping out some bottles with water-laden foods such as: tomatoes (90 percent water), watermelon (92 percent water), strawberries (91 percent water) and carrots (87 percent water).
  • Seek shady places: Outdoor sojourns are best made to areas that contain many trees and bushes. One of the key findings from the Harvard study was that people in areas with plentiful plant life weren’t as negatively affected by changing temperatures.

Related
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How Summer Heat Can Affect Your Medications
16 Common Issues of Aging

Read more: Fun, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Life, Nature, Outdoor Activities, , , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

72 comments

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11:28AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

Just got a [link = "http://mainstreetcomfort.com/"]new air conditioning system[/link] in my house last week! Hopefully it curbs my heat problems!

Here's to hoping! :)

6:24PM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

Thanks!

9:10PM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

To Michael H - just thought I'd let you know that alcohol dehydrates the body...

If people don't know by now, they should - hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - not with alcohol, or even sugary sodas, but cool water is best. Not from plastic bottles, unless it's an emergency, but from the tap, or fountain.

As far as sunscreens go, I'm not exactly sad I can't use them because of my allergies. As some have said here, who wants to slather themselves, their family, with yukky chemicals that aren't even pronounceable.

7:33AM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

Thanks

3:40AM PDT on Jun 26, 2013

Thank you :)

12:03PM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

Thanks

10:58AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

I made sure to look into ac service back when it was still cooler out. I never used to, but now that I have kids, I make it a top priority to keep my kids comfortable all year round.

9:19AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

Summer is here and we need to remember to protect our pets from the dangers of summer as well. I've already read about animals dying because they've been left in a hot vehicle.

There is NO REASON why an animal should be left in a vehicle. Take them to the vet, take them to the dog park, take them to the pet supply store to buy them a toy but do not take them and leave them, even for a minute.

These deaths are 100% preventable. If it's too hot for you, then it's definitely too hot for your pet.

6:01PM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

cool no HOT ideas

4:52AM PDT on Jun 22, 2013

Sunscreen may not be a good idea. Applying these chemicals directly onto the skin ...

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