Summertime and the living is dangerous! From sunburns to food poisoning, here’s how to handle some hot weather hazards:
Like Sunburn. When the sun bounces off sand and water, the rays are amplified. The sun can even damage your skin through a car window. And even a single sunburn can raise our lifetime risk for skin cancer. That’s why we need to use sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn – but UVA rays penetrate deeper, and damage deeper layers of the skin. But most sunscreens are chemical sunscreens, which means they need to sink into the skin to be effective. That generally takes 30 minutes. And we need to apply a shot-glass-size amount every two hours. But most people only use half that amount. As a guideline, the website SkinCancer.org says we should be using up to HALF of an 8-ounce bottle for an afternoon spent in the sun. If you do get burned, pop an aspirin to take down the swelling, and drink a lot of water since sunburn draws fluid out of the body.
Another hot weather hazard: Insects that sting and bite – which are most active in summer. 2 million people in the US are allergic to insect stings and bites – and half a million of us end up in the hospital because of it. That’s why Dr. Richard Pollack from the Harvard School of Public Health says, if you know you’re allergic, you should always carry an epi-pen. It won’t do you any good in your medicine cabinet if you get stung on a hike.
One final hazard: Food poisoning – which peaks in summer. Most foodborne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between 90 and 110-degrees. Bacteria also need moisture, and summer weather is often hot and humid. But don’t worry as much about the macaroni salad at the picnic making you sick. The most common cause of food poisoning is chicken. In fact, today’s store-bought mayonnaise is pasteurized and sterile, and actually slows the growth of bacteria on food.