As a paramedic I have seen first hand just what kind of damage the blistering heat and the blazing sun can do to the human body. The worst cases that I see are when children face problems as a result of the Tucson sun and if you are a mother or father, the last thing that you want is to be accused of causing the death or physical damage to your child because you couldn’t didn’t keep them protected in the sun. This may sound a little shocking but trust me, I have seen this happen before and will potentially see it again if people continue to play fast and lose with the elements.
My colleague Hans Eckhardt Tucson resident and fellow paramedic often runs a course in the area to teach parents and kids how to stay safe in the sunshine and I wanted to share some of the teachings with you today.
It is first important that you understand the dangers that exist when you are in the sun for great lengths of time. This level of exposure can cause short term issues such as dehydration, exhaustion and sunburn and in the long term you could be looking at issues such as skin cancer or other skin conditions. This is not to say that you should avoid sunshine altogether but you must be aware of the dangers of over-exposure.
When you are in direct sunlight you must cover up as best as you can. This can be something that is difficult to do as you do not want to make yourself even hotter than you already are, the best course of action is to use breathable fabrics which will protect you from the sun’s rays, without adding to your body temperature.
You should make sure that you are using a high factor suncream in order to protect your skin from UV rays. Make sure that you are applying suncream each hour that you are outside so that your skin stays constantly protected. Be careful with water and make sure that you re-apply after you have been in the water, remember that water resistant and waterproof are two different things and water can wash away the suncream that you have put on.
When it comes to your exposure to direct sunlight you should aim to keep this to a minimum and stay in shaded areas wherever possible. The sun is hottest in the middle of the day so this is really the time that you should avoid exposure to the sun altogether.
Whether you are in direct sunlight or not, it is vital that you are drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day which will keep you hydrated. Avoid drinks such as coffee which will dehydrate you and in reality you should be drinking between 3 – 5 litres of water each and every day if you want to keep your body’s temperature low and hydration levels high.
Enjoy the sun by all means but do so in a safe manner.