“Staying safe in the heat and sun isn’t hard, but it does take a little extra time and preparation,” says Robin Reyes, Environmental Health Specialist with the Hendricks County Health Department. “Even small amounts of time outside, like a 30-minute walk, can be harmful if you don’t take precautions.”
When planning any activities outdoors, even for short amounts of time, Reyes recommends residents do the following:
- Wear a minimum SPF 30 sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection and reapply it every 2-4 hours
- Drink lots of water, and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink
- Pace activities by giving yourself extra time to complete them and starting out slow
- Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors
- Schedule workouts, practices, and any other high-energy activities earlier or later in the day
- Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. when the sun is the highest and hottest
- Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing, a brimmed hat, and sunglasses
“High temperatures can cause heat-related illness, which can happen very quickly and be very dangerous, possibly causing hospitalization or death,” warns Nicole Oppy, Public Health Nurse with the Hendricks County Health Department. “The sun can damage the skin temporarily, causing a sun burn, but can also cause long-term damage, such as skin cancer.”
Anyone showing signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, such as high body temperature, changes in skin look or feel, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, nausea or vomiting, and weakness or fainting, should see a doctor or other health care provider immediately.
“Make sure you are getting yearly skin cancer checks from your doctor,” suggests Oppy. “If you have any new or changing moles or dark spots on your skin, see your doctor immediately so they can check it out.”
The Hendricks County Health Department can provide additional information on sun and heat safety to the public. For more information, contact the Hendricks County Health Department Environmental Health Division at (317) 745-9217 or the Public Health Nursing Division at (317) 745-9222.