It may have taken a little longer this year, but it seems as though summer has finally arrived — with warmer temperatures taking hold of Sanders County last week.
As the mercury began to reach the high 80s and mid 90s, the UV index also reached high numbers.
On the standard UV index scale, moderate sits at around 3 to 5; however, last week’s numbers hovered at 9 to 10, which is rated very high.
What this means is that when you venture outdoors, the sun’s UV rays will take a shorter time to damage your skin.
Going outside unprotected from the sun when both temperatures and UV rays hit high levels, you open yourself up to possible heatstroke, sunstroke and damaging your skin, which could result in skin cancer.
The hottest parts of the day lay between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.; minimizing your outdoors activities during these hours can really protect you from the suns damage.
With water sports also beginning to ramp up with the warmer weather, investing in UV protective sunglasses and correct UV sunscreen will help protect with the reflections coming off the water.
“Summer is finally here and out comes the sun and in comes the heat. Sun, as with most elements, requires consideration in order to prevent some of the damage. UV exposure and illnesses caused by extreme heat are two major considerations,” said Pam Vecchio, APRN from Hot Springs Family Medicine Office.
“Clothing is the most basic and best way to prevent skin absorption of UV rays. Colors of clothing as well as types of fabrics and ones that covers the most body parts will protect the best. Many dyed clothing absorbs UV rays and protect against exposure,” she said of easy protection methods.
It is found the more vivid the color the more protection. That is as long as the clothing is tightly woven, so the UV lights cannot shine though. Materials such as polyester, lycra, nylon, acrylic and rayon can actually deflect UV rays.
“There are garments that are currently being manufactured for these purposes. These garments carry UPF labels. The higher the number the less the penetration of UV light. For good protection the UPF should be at least 30 or more. These materials are usually: 1, lycra/elastane; 2, nylon; and 3, polyester, all in that order,” Vecchio said.
Fabrics with looser knit and lighter in colors tend to be less protective and allow more exposure to UV light.
Wearing a hat
“Hats can also be UV protective and should also be included when exposed. Hats with a wide brim at least three inches in diameter. They should also cover your ears,” Vecchio said.
Sunscreens are recommend on unprotected skin. SPF levels of at least 15 should be used, but for longer exposure using SPF of 30 is better protection.
“Staying hydrated, even when temperatures are not elevated, is what our bodies need to maintain good overall health. Water helps regulate temperature, remove waste, and lubricates joints. It is important to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily,” Vecchio explained of staying cool in the hot summer days.
If by some chance there is an incidence of sun exposure that causes sunburn, there are precautions to take to prevent further damage. At the first sign of sunburn, remove yourself from direct sunlight. Cool the skin with water and apply water-based creams. Be sure to drink plenty of cool water. Staying out of the sun until the skin has healed is another big tip for those who may have spent a little too much time in the sun.
“As with anything, too much sun and too much heat can be damaging. Children under two years of age and the very elderly are most susceptible to a condition called heat stroke. Heat stroke is when the body over heats due to prolonged exposure to heat or due to physical exertion with elevated temperatures,” Vecchio explained.
of heat stroke
“Some of the symptoms of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, light headedness, no sweat with red hot dry skin, muscle cramping and weakness, nausea and vomiting, an increase in heart rate, and rapid shallow breathing. When there is confusion and a fever above 103, this is considered a medical emergency, and call 911 immediately,” Vecchio further expressed.
“Prevention is the best defense. Use protective clothing and sunblock while enjoying the sunny days. Stay hydrated at all times, especially when it is warm. Stay out of the heat of the day most importantly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk in the shade. Avoid extreme physical exertion in the heat. Drink cold drinks without caffeine and alcohol and enjoy cold foods with an increase in water content,” Vecchio said.
When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors in the Big Sky state: Remember — slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat.