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Healthier Together: Enjoy the sun safely

Posted at 4:07 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 18:07:37-04

As temperatures creep to near record highs this week, experts with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah want to help keep you and your family safe in the summer sun.

Wellness consultant Allie Henderson says, “Try to plan your activities early in the day when the sun’s UV rays aren’t the strongest.”

Henderson says seeking shelter between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is your best bet. But if you can’t escape the sun during those hours, it’s important to make sure you are properly protected.

“If you are outside, even if it’s cloudy, make sure you’re wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30,” says Henderson.

Don’t forget to re-apply. Henderson says sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours, or more frequently if you’re in the water. And don’t forget to check the expiration date.

“I know a lot of us are just re-using sunscreen from previous years, and while they still may be good, you just want to make sure it’s still safe and effective to use.”

Proper sunblock can keep you and your loved ones from suffering from uncomfortable burns, but more importantly, skin cancer.

“On average, the risk for melanoma doubles when a person has had at least five or more sunburns,” says Henderson.

Here in Utah, our skin cancer rates are more than twice the national average, and there are some simple things you can do to cut down your risk.

In addition to wearing sunscreen, select clothing that can help keep you covered on sunny days, and don’t forget to grab that hat.

Henderson says, “Ideally you’re choosing one with a wide brim that will cover your face, ears, and the back of your neck.”

Protecting yourself from the sun can also help prevent dehydration.

“When temps are high, it's easy to become dehydrated especially if you're being active, so keep cool refreshing water nearby,” says Henderson.

Henderson advises to drink half our body weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh about 180 lbs., you’ll want to get 90 ounces, or about 12-15 glasses of water per day. Make sure you stick to water too – alcohol and caffeinated beverages can contribute to dehydration.

Early dehydration signs to watch out for include:
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Fatigue
- Lightheadness
- Decline in cognition

Experts say you should sip water, a sports drink or fruit juice at the first since of dehydration. If symptoms become more severe, go to the emergency room.

Here’s to a safe and healthy summer season.