Summer is a time for fun in the sun. Vacations, BBQs, pool parties—it's no wonder this season is most people's favorite.
But with the nicer weather comes the potential for danger. From the sun’s rays to the foods on your plate, summer is full of hazards hidden in plain sight. Since August is Sun Safety Month, it’s the perfect time to shine a light on how to protect your skin from sinister sun damage. We’ll also dive into hydration, food safety, and healthy traveling so you can revel in all of the summer vibes without any setbacks.
Smart Sun Safety
Whether you’re at a ballgame, the beach, or out in the yard, soaking up the sun is one of summer’s great pleasures. But even though you may love how your new tan looks, overexposure to the sun’s damaging ultra violet (UV) rays is the No. 1 cause of most cases of skin cancer. Fortunately, by employing the following sun-safety tips, you can protect against the dark side of the sun while still enjoying all the fun it offers.
Use plenty of sunscreen. Regular sunscreen use doesn’t just prevent a nasty sunburn; it can reduce your risk of skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.1 In an analysis of 10 studies on the effectiveness of sunscreen, all of the studies showed that its use either reduced or prevented UV radiation damage.2 Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen boasting at least 30 SPF every day (even if it’s cloudy!). And don’t forget the kids! Exposure to high levels of UV radiation during childhood can increase their melanoma risk when they’re older.3
Don’t skimp. Unfortunately, even when people do remember to put on sunscreen, they aren’t putting enough on. And that could actually be reducing the SPF number stated on the bottle.4 Most adults tend to wear between one-quarter and one-half of the recommended thickness, so don’t be shy when lathering up.
Reapply often. A 2018 study showed that putting on two consecutive layers of sunscreen provides the most protection from the sun. That’s because the second application evened out thin areas and hit spots that were missed the first time.5 It’s also a good idea to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours or after spending any time in the pool, lake, or ocean. Even though some lotions claim to be “water-resistant,” getting wet causes a significant reduction in the efficacy of sunscreen.6 And you’ll lose even more if you’ve already applied lotion or other cosmetics prior to putting on sunscreen.7
Stay cool. Direct sun exposure isn’t the only danger that you have to be aware of this summer. Soaring temps cause heat-related hospital visits to spike from May to September, with 65 percent of heat deaths coming in July and August each year.8 But with more severe and longer-lasting heat waves, it’s more essential than ever to stay cool and out of the sun whenever possible.
Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help keep your core temperature down. It also fosters better cognition, immunity, and organ function. But while chugging plenty of H20 is great for your health, you can maximize the benefit of your water intake by mixing in a nutrient-dense powdered greens drink mix. Not only are these drink mixes full of natural superfoods that improve overall health, you can opt for a mix specifically targeted to support your energy, immunity, or digestion.
Tips for Eating Outdoors
Picnics, BBQs, cooking over a campfire—nothing says summer like enjoying a meal outside. But cooking and transporting foods outdoors require an extra level of care to ensure that your foods stay safe to eat. Here are a few food safety tips to ensure that your meals fresh and free from damaging microbes.
Handle food properly. Hotter summer temperatures create the perfect environment for pathogens to grow, putting your food in the danger zone. Leaving food out for too long causes bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli to grow to illness-causing levels. That’s why it’s important to keep cold foods cold until they are to be cooked or eaten. If you’re going on a picnic or camping trip, don’t take perishable meat or poultry products without proper cold storage to maintain the adequate temperature.
Cook to temperature. Firing up the grill is one the best parts of summer. But that doesn’t mean you should crank it up to full blast. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, foods cooked at high temperatures contain harmful carcinogens. Use medium heat or move food to the cooler spots on the grill. And use a meat thermometer to judge when food is cooked through. This is especially important when you’re cooking chicken or pork, which need to be cooked to higher internal temperatures.
Take care. Cooking outdoors comes with its own set of hazards. Things like lighter fluid and sharp cooking tools can instantly elevate the risk of injury. If you’re grilling, always make sure that coals are extinguished or the gas has been turned off after cooking. And be sure to keep sharp cooking objects out of the reach of children.
Staying Healthy While Traveling
Summer means exploring far off locations and going on new adventures. It also means that you won’t have access to the conveniences of home. But a little preparation can help you can stay on track.
Store supplements safely. Just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean your supplement routine should be. But how should you store supplements safely while traveling? The first step is to prepare beforehand by organizing the supplements you’ll need for the entire trip. Then set calendar reminders so you don’t forget to take them. Never leave them in a hot vehicle or suitcase. And opt for shelf-stable probiotics like Kyo-Dophilus so you don’t have to worry about refrigeration.
Be cautious. People tend to be more carefree on vacation. And with all the fun excursions and activities you’re more likely to suffer a sprain, strain, or broken bone on your summer getaway. Remember to practice good safety habits by following all precautions. It’s also important to know your limits so if it’s a new activity, don’t overdo it.
Summer is the season for experiencing the great outdoors. By following these tips, you can enjoy everything this time of year has to offer without compromising your health.
- van der Pols JC. Prolonged Prevention of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin by Regular Sunscreen Use. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006;15(12):2546–2548.
- Olsen CM. Prevention of DNA damage in human skin by topical sunscreens. Photodermatol. Photoimmunol. Photomed. 2017;33:135-142.
- Whiteman DC. Childhood sun exposure as a risk factor for melanoma: a systematic review of epidemiologic studies. Cancer Causes Control. 2001;12:69–82.
- Diaz A. The Children and Sunscreen Study: A Crossover Trial Investigating Children’s Sunscreen Application Thickness and the Influence of Age and Dispenser Type. Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(5):606–612.
- Heerfordt IM. Sunscreen use optimized by two consecutive applications. PLOS ONE. 2018;13(3):e0193916.
- Stokes RP. The water resistance of sunscreen and day-care products. The British Journal of Dermatology. 1999;140(2):259-263.
- Kluschke F. Gain or Loss? Sunscreen Efficiency after Cosmetic Pretreatment of the Skin. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27:82-89.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heat-related deaths after an extreme heat event–four states, 2012, and United States, 1999-2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013;62(22):433-6.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.