Residents of Arizona have long coped with the sizzling summer heat that the entire nation is experiencing this summer. The first people lived in the Arizona territory approximately 10,000 years ago. Of course it was impossible to run down to the local drug store to purchase sunscreen, so if it was needed the early people had to devise their own. A trick elephants know is to use their funk to flip dirt onto their backs. They actually have very sensitive skin and the dirt helps protect them from sunburns.
Most of us would more than likely not want to dust ourselves with dirt to protect our skin, so we typically select sunscreen. There are numerous varieties, however what’s most important is the SPF factor, which should be 15 or higher.
There are also many ways to protect yourself from intense heat and here are a few ideas from people across the country.
“When it gets too hot outside, I like to stay inside.” – Bill in Florida
“If I’m working in flowerbeds I try to follow the sun and work in the shade as much as possible, also wear a big sun hat, and of course drink lots of water to stay hydrated.” – Debra in Texas
“Put a cold, wet towel over your head, or a frozen one.” – Todd in Arizona
Dina in Wisconsin, wears a cowgirl hat that protects her head from the sun while she works on the family ranch.
There are many other ways to be certain we stay safe in the sun, including limiting your time outdoors, and drinking Gator Aide or G2 to help replace the electrolytes that you lose when perspiring. Adults and older children can certainly tell someone when they are feeling bad, however what about young children?
The Arizona Department of Health offers some great tips for young children, to keep them safe in the summer heat and sun.
All children should be protected from the sun and potential sunburn when outdoors.
• Infants younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight to protect their
sensitive skin. Children under 12 months should have limited sun exposure.
• For a newborn, use a carriage with a hood that can be adjusted to block the sun.
• With a toddler, use a canopy stroller or umbrella attachment to shade the child.
• Seek shade from an awning, tree or umbrella, especially when the sun is most intense. Peak sun exposure occurs from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.
• Protect baby’s head and face with a wide-brimmed hat. Cover exposed arms and
legs with clothing, or a lightweight cloth. Soft-foam sunglasses can protect eyes.
• Minimal sunscreen may be applied to an infant’s face and back of the hands after
checking with parents who’ve consulted their pediatrician. Choose a moisturizing (not alcohol-based) water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Test an area on the child’s arm 1st for possible reaction. Avoid eyes.
• Children 3 and older can be taught to self-apply sunscreen. Children can practice by applying imaginary sunscreen onto exposed skin starting with their face. Use fun imagery. For example, rub sunscreen on your neck like a giraffe, on your toes like a turtle. Avoid eye area and inner ear. Once proficient, use real sunscreen.
• Older children like a discovery approach to sun safety. The sun is a glowing ball
of plasma 93 million miles away, but its invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays can burn and damage skin. UV-A rays age skin like an alligator’s. UV-B rays burn skin. Both rays penetrate skin and can cause cell changes that lead to skin cancer, unless we protect skin with sunscreen, clothing, hats, sunglasses and lip balm.
• Providers can ask parents to apply sunscreen to children before arriving at the site.
• Sunscreen lasts only about 2 1⁄2 hours. Sunscreen applied in the morning should
be reapplied at lunch or sooner if engaging in water play or after activities
where children sweat and sunscreen can wear off. “Waterproof” sunscreens wear off.
• Some centers have gallon jugs of sunscreen so all children have access and so that children can self-apply. Sunscreen should be an SPF 15 or higher.
• A wide-brimmed hat (2 inches or wider) provides more protection than a baseball hat or visor which does not protect the ears, back of the neck or scalp.
For women that wear makeup, you may want to reconsider your typical routine during the summer months, especially if you plan to spend time outdoors. That great moisturizer we slather all over our faces, plus eye makeup or foundation, may later melt and run into your eyes. Wear dark glasses and use your moisturizer later when in the air conditioning, or just before bed.
Please stay safe this summer and watch your children.