Safe fun in summer sun
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Summer - the time of year when everyone wants to go to the beach, have a cookout or lie out and enjoy the sun.
Although this may be the warmest and brightest time of year, it is important to keep in mind what affects the sun and hot temperatures can have on your body if exposed for long periods of time.
Heat stress occurs when a person becomes too hot to maintain their appropriate body temperature. Heat stress is broken down into three categories, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
"A heat stroke is the most serious type of heat related injury," said Capt. Joseph Teodoro, 35th Aerospace Medicine Squadron chief of aerospace and operational physiology. "Everyone must know that this is a medical emergency and it can significantly harm the brain and other vital organs."
While heat cramps and heat exhaustion are treatable, it is important to recognize the symptoms of a heat stroke in case you need to take the right course of action.
Common symptoms for a heat stroke are fever, rapid heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, elevated or lowered blood pressure, cessation of sweating, irritability, confusion or unconsciousness, dizziness or lightheadedness, headache, and nausea.
Teodoro said if you suspect a person or friend is having a heat stroke it is vital to take the proper actions:
- Move the person out of the sun and into a shaded or air-conditioned space
- Call 911 or emergency medical help
- Cool down the individual by fanning the person, covering them with damp sheets or spraying cool water onto the person's body
- Have the individual drink cool water, if they can
Another heat oriented threat to your body are sunburns. Sunburns may not be as attention grabbing as the scare of a heat stroke, but it's every bit as dangerous.
Years of research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have proven that excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays damages your skin's DNA, which can lead to skin cancer.
"The best way to avoid getting sun burnt is limiting your exposure to the sun," said Teodoro. "Stay in the shade as much as possible, use light and breathable clothing, use sunscreen, and most importantly - continue to hydrate."
The sun is most harmful anywhere from 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m. If you go out during that time, most doctors recommend a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.
So, the next time you choose to refuse the protection of sunscreen for a darker tan, remember that you're slowly killing your body.
"As long as common sense is used and proper fluid intake is followed, heat injuries can be prevented and you can be on your way to having a safe and healthy summer," said Teodoro.