3 ways to stay safe in the sun

Being Mediterranean doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take precautions in the sun.

August and the first half of September are peak summer time in Malta, with many of us on leave, kids still on school holidays and all the time in the world to spend at the beach. Sun equals fun, right? Well, not always.

Many of us might act in a cavalier fashion when it comes to slapping on the sunblock. The reasoning being that we’re Mediterranean and we’re used to it. Not for us the ‘lobster look’ that makes us spot an unwary tourist a mile away.

Truth is, the sun can still create a lot of damage even for those of us used to exposure. This is especially true in the case of children and the elderly.

It’s important to keep in mind a few safety precautions to help enjoy those beach moments to the fullest. Here’s some advice from the experts at the American Heart Association for a safe August and September.

Stay hydrated

Hot and humid months lead to more outdoor activities where the warm temperatures may lead to sweating and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Keeping the body hydrated is important for optimal functioning, especially in the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water by bringing refillable water bottles and containers when summer calls for fun on the go. In addition to drinking plenty of water, you can supplement intake by eating foods with high water content like melons, lettuce and cucumbers. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of mild dehydration, including a dry or sticky mouth, headache, muscle cramps, fatigue or decreased urination. More severe cases may include nausea or vomiting, confusion, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, seizures or unconsciousness.

Keep skin healthy

Taking steps to protect skin starts before you ever step into the sun, as it may be easy to get caught up in the joys of summer and forget about those damaging rays. Avoiding time spent outdoors in the midday hours helps limit exposure, but it also may not be realistic for busy families with sporting events, pool dates and more. Wearing sunscreen can help reduce the risk of sunburn, skin cancer and early onset of wrinkles; experts recommend using SPF 30 or higher at least 30 minutes before heading into the sun and reapplying at least every two hours throughout long days outdoors. Also consider wearing clothing that protects skin, such as sunglasses, a large-brimmed hat and light, long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Learn CPR

With summer comes rest, relaxation and fun, but it can also bring increased risk with more time spent in the heat and around water. We often see headlines about people who have found themselves in difficulties while swimming, and it’s not just tourists who aren’t used to it. Knowing CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation – could be the key to saving someone from cardiac arrest or drowning. If performed immediately, it can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association. However, only about 40% of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive help before professionals arrive. Needless to say, you should only do this if you know what your are doing.

Find more ways to stay safe from the sun by visiting heart.org.

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