It's UV Safety Awareness Month, and we all know the best way to stay safe from the sun's harmful UV rays is to stay out of it. But what if you have to go outside for things like work, or a 4th of July barbecue? How can you prevent heat exhaustion, sunstroke and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays?
Don’t worry. AFC Urgent Care Norwalk is here to help guide you on how to stay UV protected and sun safe this summer!
UV Rays Can Cause Heat Related Illnesses And Harm To the Body
Most people like to think that UV rays are good for their tans, but it can actually cause more harm to the skin and body when exposed for prolonged periods of time. There are 3 types of UV rays to be concerned about:
- UVA - longest and weakest wavelength
- UVB - second longest / stronger than UVA rays
- UVC - shortest wavelength, but the strongest rays
Thanks to the Earth’s ozone layer, UVC and most UVB rays from the sun are filtered out. We’re only exposed to UVA and some UVB rays from the sun. However, the ozone layer is wearing thin in many spots across the globe. Also, people that use tanning beds and other artificial sources raise their risk of being exposed to UVC rays that can cause melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. UVB rays usually cause the more serious sunburns while UVA rays may lead to skin aging and damage to your eyes.
Altogether, UV rays do more harm than good. During the summer, these rays can even cause heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is often milder than heatstroke, but it’s important to know the signs so you can avoid it. Let’s take a look.
Know The Signs Of Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two entirely separate conditions. They’re both caused by overexposure to UV rays and extremely hot weather conditions. You've probably heard this one before; it’s a simple concept but our best piece of advice, and it's important: The best way to avoid heat exhaustion, sunstroke and UV rays is by staying in the shade.
If you exhibit the following symptoms, then chances are, you might be having a heat stroke:
- Confusion or disorientation
It is important to seek medical attention, right away and to stay hydrated this summer!
Protecting Against Harmful UV Rays
If you're going to be outside, wear sunscreen. This is a no-brainer, but it's worth repeating: The sun is harmful for anyone, even if you’re “naturally” tanned. If you have pale skin and are planning on spending time in the sun this summer (and who isn't?), make sure to apply SPF 30+ at least every two hours and reapply as needed.
If you're planning on being outdoors for long periods of time or are more sensitive to the heat than others, consider wearing protective clothing that covers much of your body when possible.
This includes hats (yes, even in summer), sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats can help protect against UV rays affecting the eyes and face.Lastly (but certainly not least), avoid excessive exposure by limiting prolonged time outside during peak sunlight hours between 10am-4pm when UV rays are strongest
Stay Cool, Sun Safe And Hydrated This UV Safety Month
Boy! It’s hot out there. The 4th of July is just around the corner and some of you might be planning a barbeque or beach day. We hope that you can use these sun safety and heat illness prevention tips so that you can enjoy your gatherings this summer. If you need us, AFC Urgent Care Norwalk will be here for you in case you need a checkup, tick removed, travel vaccinations and medicine, COVID-19 testing and a whole lot more.
Walk-in or make an appointment any day of the week! We are open weekdays from 8am-8pm and 8am-5pm on the weekends.