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Keeping Safe in the Sun

While we all enjoy the summer heat, it's important to stay safe and treat the sun with caution.

Sunburn

If you've ever had a sunburn, you know that it's painful and can cause blistering and peeling. Depending on how bad it is, a sunburn can ruin your day, your week, and even the rest of the summer, as you'll have to stay inside and heal while everyone else has fun. Prevent sunburn by applying sunscreen regularly, covering up, and finding shade when possible. Limit exposure to the sun, especially if you have very light or sensitive skin. Frequent sunburns also contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer.

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Dehydration

Prolonged exposure to heat and sun can cause dehydration, which can cause exhaustion, lethargy, hunger, headaches, and muscle pain. Drink plenty of water BEFORE you get thirsty, and keep drinking it all day. If you start to feel the symptoms of dehydration, get out of the sun and head somewhere cool, and drink plenty of fluids. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, can help restore the body's fluids lost when sweating or doing exercise, and are great for recovering from dehydration.

Heat Exhaustion

Also known as heat stroke or sun stroke, heat exhaustion is effectively extreme dehydration and overheating. Symptoms include fatigue and headache, and extreme heat exhaustion can lead to vomiting and loss of consciousness, and untreated can even lead to brain damage. Some may even require hospitalization. Prevent heat exhaustion by limiting exposure to the sun and drinking lots of water. If you start to feel fatigued, go inside or into the shade and rest. Avoid doing strenuous activity in extreme heat.

Long-Term Effects

Sun exposure over a lifetime can seriously damage skin. Sun damage can cause premature aging, including wrinkling, sagging, and discoloration. Dark, raised freckles and moles may indicate either benign or malignant tumours, and of course sun exposure can lead to skin cancer.

Protect Yourself

No one expects you to avoid the sun entirely - especially in Canada where summer sun is what gets us through the winter! However, you should always protect yourself by:

  • Using sunscreen and re-applying often
  • Hydrating
  • Limiting sun exposure and taking breaks in the shade
  • Covering exposed skin
  • Avoid strenuous activity in extreme heat