10 Summer Hazards
Nothing beats relaxing in the summer sun, but spending time outdoors does have its risks. Here’s a look at some common—and not so common—summer perils, and what to do if you encounter them.
Sunlight can be beneficial to your health (think vitamin D!), but repeated or severe sunburns can cause both immediate and long-term health problems.
According to a 2007 Skin Cancer Foundation poll, 42 percent of people get sunburned at least once per year. Mild sunburns cause slight pain and redness, while severe burns may cause blisters or a rash and have serious repercussions. “According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, even one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence can more than double the chances of developing melanoma,” says Darrick Antell, M.D., assistant clinical professor of surgery at Columbia University in New York City and educational spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. “It also causes aging of the skin.”
The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but your sunburn risk isn’t limited to those hours, nor are you less at risk on cloudy days. To avoid overexposure, use sun block with an SPF of at least 15. Approximately 30 minutes before sun exposure, apply the product liberally to your body, including your ears and your scalp, and make sure to reapply every few hours and after swimming—even if the sun block is waterproof, says Antell. If you are hypersensitive to the sun’s UV rays or have an open wound or a scar, apply zinc oxide for added protection.
There’s no quick fix for sunburns; they heal over time. To ease any discomfort, apply cold compresses or aloe, and take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. See a doctor if your skin blisters or you are experiencing high fever, extreme pain, headache, confusion, nausea, or chills.