It's officially the first weekend of summer and extreme temperatures continue to affect many parts of the U.S.
"It's important to protect yourself and your family from high temperatures and humidity," says Dr. Brittany Beel, a Mayo Clinic emergency medicine physician. "Heat exhaustion can result if your body cannot regulate itself. Basically, it overheats. The good news is that it's preventable."
Left untreated, heat exhaustion can result in heatstroke. And, too much sun can lead to severe, blistering of the skin as well as sun poisoning.
Try these summer safety tips:
Apply sunscreen. Lather up a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF of at least 30, though preferably SPF 50, to prevent skin cancer. Pay attention to the nose, ears, back of the neck and scalp, as these areas are easily missed and are common skin cancer locations. It is also important to use waterproof sunscreen if you are going to be outside for long periods of time. Reapply sunscreen about every two hours or more often, especially if swimming or sweating excessively.
Stay hydrated. It is important not only to drink plenty of water. but also plenty of electrolytes with your water. Sports drinks are a good way to ensure your body gets the electrolytes it needs to keep you hydrated. Electrolytes guide water into the cells and are necessary for the body to function. Without them, you won’t be hydrating effectively.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol causes your body to waste the water it needs, causing you to become dehydrated much quicker. Being in the sun and drinking alcohol can be a dangerous mix, as both increase your dehydration risk.
Protect your eyes. Remember to wear sunglasses if you are going to be outside for long periods of time. UV light can permanently damage your eyes.
Know when to throw out food. Be careful about leaving foods such as potato salad, out too long in the sun as this can increase the risk of food poisoning. In addition, be sure to thoroughly cook meats and wash your hands with soap and water after touching raw meat to reduce your risk of food poisoning.
Summer is a great time to spend outdoors with your family and friends. Take time to be prepared, use caution and know the risks.