Don’t underestimate the heat

Published 10:11 am Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer is a-coming in, as the song goes, and the season’s official beginning is Sunday.

Already though, we’ve all felt the extra-hot temperatures this week. Which reminds us to remind you of the need to shield yourselves against the heat and humidity.

If feasible, avoid strenuous outdoor activities such as gardening or mowing when the temperatures will be at their highest. Do them in the cooler part of the day instead. Either way, stay hydrated at work or play.

Check on neighbors who are elderly or disabled to ensure they have air conditioners or fans, and that those are working properly.

Dr. Navneet Dhillon, a medical oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Newnan, Georgia, offers the following guidelines. One of her specialties is treating people with melanoma.

• Play in the shade: The sun’s UV rays are most intense from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Remind kids to play — or at least take breaks — in shaded areas in order to limit UV exposure. Getting out of the sun can also reduce their risk of heat illness.

• Sun screen: Teach children to apply one ounce (about the size of a golf ball) of sunscreen to all exposed areas 30 minutes before outdoor activities. Teach them to cover areas such as the back of their ears and neck, and the tops of their feet and hands. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours and especially after swimming or sweating.

• Sun-safe swimwear: Look for bathing suits that cover more skin — swim shirts, one-piece suits and long trunks come in fashionable colors and styles for both boys and girls. Many types of swimwear are now rated with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF); the higher the UPF, the more protection they provide.

• Ban the tan: Like pink or burned skin, a tan is a sign of DNA damage to skin cells, a risk factor for developing skin cancer. Remind teens especially that tanning — whether “laying out” in the sun or using a tanning bed — increases skin cancer risk and also causes wrinkles and other skin blemishes.

• Cover up: While tightly woven clothes provide the best protection against UV rays, wearing a T-shirt in the pool and outdoors provides more protection than wearing no shirt (for boys) or a two-piece bathing suit (for girls). Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses also help protect sensitive skin on the neck, face and around the eyes (for boys, a baseball cap is still better than no hat at all).

• Be aware: A light cloud covering often doesn’t completely block UV rays, it may only diffuse them; it’s still possible to get sunburned on a cloudy day. In addition, concrete, sand and water can all reflect the sun’s rays — so reapply sunscreen any time you’re outdoors during peak hours.