As the scorching Australian summer rolls in, the temptation to bask in the sun is irresistible. However, it’s crucial to understand that the sun, even with sunscreen, poses significant risks. Our bodies are remarkable, but they can easily succumb to the heat, leading to exhaustion and sunburn.
Here’s how you can stay safe and cool this summer:
- Seek shade: The sun’s rays, especially in Australia, are potent. Even with sunscreen, your body can overheat, making you susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Sunscreen is essential, but it’s not a foolproof shield. Seek shade, wear protective clothing, and don a wide-brimmed hat to minimise direct sun exposure.
- Rest regularly: Your body works overtime to keep cool on hot sunny days. You might feel tired after a day in the sun because your body diverts energy to regulate your temperature. Sweating is the body’s natural cooling mechanism, but excessive heat can overwhelm this process, leaving you drained and fatigued. Resting regularly throughout the day reduces the likelihood of heat exhaustion.
- Beware of overcast days: It’s a common misconception that overcast days mean you’re safe from sunburn. UV rays penetrate clouds, putting you at risk even when the sun isn’t glaring. Always wear sunscreen, regardless of cloud cover. Opt for clothing that has a 50+ SPF rating, apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant 50+ SPF to protect any exposed areas of your skin and reapply frequently.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration is a significant concern in the summer heat. Your body loses fluids through sweating, so staying hydrated is vital to prevent heat exhaustion. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate you further.
- Plan outdoor activities wisely: If possible, schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, early morning or late evening. If you must be outdoors during peak sun hours, take regular breaks in the shade, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen generously, reapplying every two hours.
- Listen to your body: Your body gives warning signs when it’s overheating – dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and excessive sweating. Don’t ignore these signals. Find shade, sit or lie down, and hydrate immediately. Heat-related illnesses are serious and can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.