There once was a time when people believed that a summer suntan was a sign of good health
Billboard ads for “tanning lotion” featured a playful puppy tugging at the swimsuit of a happy little girl. Especially in Central Illinois, gardening, picnics, swimming, and other outdoor activities with family and friends made summer a special time to be outdoors. No one worried very much about the effects of overexposure to the sun’s rays.
Today we know better. We know that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a known cause of skin cancers, with the most common types tending to occur on the parts of the body exposed to the sun.
The strength of the sun’s ultraviolet rays varies throughout the day, depending on the position of the sun in the sky. It increases from dawn until noon, when the sun is directly overhead, then decreases until sunset. The strength of UV rays is also affected by weather and atmospheric conditions. In Central Illinois in July, as few as ten minutes of exposure to ultraviolet rays of average strength can cause sunburn for a person who has a strong tendency to burn.
Reducing the Risks of UV Exposure
Some straightforward options for increasing protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Observe as many as you can. And don’t stop at just one.
- Use sunscreen.
Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen to all skin surfaces that will be exposed, even on cloudy or cool days. Make sure it is at least SPF 30; higher is better. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure; it needs time to be absorbed. Be sure to reapply it after two hours and immediately after swimming, sweating and toweling off. Read and follow the directions on the product label.
- Stay in the shade.
Cool off in the shade, especially during midday hours. Shade can come from an umbrella, a tree or some other shelter.
- Avoid direct sun when it’s highest in the sky.
The hours between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the UV Index is at its highest, are the most critical.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
Long-sleeved shirt and pants provide the best protection, but at least wear a tee shirt or beach cover-up. Tee shirts provide less screen than SPF sunscreen so also apply sunscreen.
- Wear a sun hat.
The ideal sun hat can be a fashionable source of protection, especially one with a brim that goes all the way around. A tightly woven one that provides shade for your face, ears and back of neck is what you’re looking for. If your ears and the back of your neck aren’t shaded by the hat, be sure to apply sunscreen.
- Wear sunglasses.
They protect your eyes from UV rays and also reduce the risk of cataracts. Wrap-around sunglasses may not be the most fashionable but they are the best.
- Check the UV Index before going out.
The UV Index varies from 0 (low) to 11 (extreme); 6 and 7 are considered to be high. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a daily UV Index and appropriate precautions on their website, www.epa.gov/enviro/uv-index-search. Take extra precautions when the Index is high.
Get Outside and Enjoy Summer
With the right precautions, there is no reason not to enjoy the summer weather. You can make the most of the brief summer months and still take care of your health. Get out and explore the many attractions and activities that Peoria and the surrounding area have to offer.
In addition to driving and escorting their clients to medical appointments, shopping, etc. most home care agencies are also very willing to escort their clients to entertaining and informative events. Perhaps it’s an often-discussed but long postponed trip to the Peoria Zoo, the Luthy Botanical Garden or the Peoria RiverFront. Whatever it is, the warm weather will be gone all too soon; take advantage of it while it lasts – and be sure to do it safely.
AC Skylines Home Care provides in–home caregiving and nursing services, including medication management. For more information and a no–charge consultation, call AC Skylines Home Care Services at (309) 689–5343 or send email to . Visit www.acskylineshomecare.org or Facebook.com/ACskylinesHomeCare.
Apostolic Christian Skylines’ continuing care retirement community offers senior living options that include nursing home care, memory care, assisted living, and independent living. For more information, call Apostolic Christian Skylines at (309) 683-2500 or send email to . Visit www.acskylines.org or Facebook.com/acskylines.