Sun Safety and Other Summer Precautions

By Simon

The Risk

To put it bluntly, long-term and unprotected exposure to the Sun opens yourself up to a world of risk. The ultraviolet light emitted by the Sun can very easily damage your eyes, even without the direct exposure of looking straight at it. It is also thought that exposure to ultraviolet light radiation accelerates the development of cataracts. Even short term exposure to the Sun can cause sun burns, which can permanently damage your skin over repeated incidences. In the case of a heat wave like we are seeing over the United Kingdom this week, being out in the Sun increases the rate of dehydration and thus the likelihood of suffering from heat stroke. Sun safety education is particularly important in a country like the UK, where people are more used to handling rainy and overcast days than uninterrupted sunshine.

The Upside

Sunshine, however, is not completely negative. The Sun supports life on Earth in its very essence, and is also the source of many health benefits for people. Sunlight is known to be an immediate mood-enhancer, as it increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, a hormone responsible for improved mood. Exposure to sunlight by the skin, in short (15 minute) periods, is also known to promote Vitamin D synthesis, which improves the strength and health of bones. Interestingly enough, sunlight is also thought of as being helpful towards sleep regulation, as it provides a stronger signal to the human body regarding the timely and regular production of melatonin. Sunlight helps us stay awake during the day, for a more restful sleep at night. There are plenty of benefits to sunlight, but how can we enjoy them without risking any of the adverse side effects?

The Solution

The key to adequate sun safety is, like many other things, moderation. If you want to maximise the benefits of enjoying time in the sun, try to limit your time outdoors and in direct sunlight to 30-45 minute intervals, with breaks in the shade or indoors. Also, remember to use a generous amount of sunscreen, and re-apply it every 2 hours - even on overcast days, the Sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds and damage your skin! To keep yourself from severely dehydrating, try to drink at least 1 cup of water every hour, and if you’re exercising or in direct sunlight outdoors, don’t hesitate to up that number to 2 cups an hour. In the summer, do take the chance to spend some time soaking up the Sun, but remember to always take precautions and stay safe. With that being said, we hope to see you all on the beach for a healthy and enjoyable summer!