Stay safe in the sun and water this summer
After the extreme, 90-degree heat we endured this week, we can probably all agree that summer is finally here. With it comes all of the outdoor activities we can only enjoy for a few months out of the year.
Many of these activities involve spending time in the sun and water. There are a few practices we should remember to keep us safe this time of year.
The sun keeps us warm and helps the earth grow, but if you aren't careful, the sun can be very dangerous. One way (and probably the best way) to protect yourself from the sun is to use sunscreen. There are many types of sunscreen out there, but the most important factor in sunscreen is the SPF number, which tells you how effective it is at blocking UVB rays.
The three most common SPF ratings are 15, 30 and 50. The lower the number, the less it blocks UVB rays. An SPF of 15 will block about 93 percent of UVB rays, allowing you to work on that tan you want, whereas 30 and 50 block 97 percent and 98 percent, respectively.
Whichever SPF you choose, remember to apply sunscreen generously. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or every time you exit the water.
Along with applying sunscreen, make sure to find shade, whether it is a beach umbrella or a tree, and remember to always wear a hat and sunglasses outside.
Once you tire of laying out in the sun, you might decide to take a dip in the pool or lake. The water is a fun place to be, but there are also some safety concerns to be aware of when swimming.
One such concern is the weather. While most people know not to swim in the rain, it isn't the only weather risk.
If it's windy out, there is a chance of getting hypothermia, a condition where the body is unable to regulate its heat properly. This happens when you leave the water and the wind cools down your body. Although it's hot outside, all you feel is the wind. Make sure to wrap yourself with a towel as soon as you can after exiting the water.
Fog is another weather-related risk when swimming, because it makes it harder to see the water. In the fog, it's possible to lose track of children and anyone else you may be with.
Also know if there are lifeguards watching the area where you're swimming. If there is no lifeguard, then it's your job to make it a safe visit for your family. Make sure to follow all posted guidelines. Never let your child swim alone or out of your site. Just because other people are also swimming in that area does not mean they will help your child if something happens. You have to be the vigilant one.
If there is a lifeguard, take a look at how they do their job. Are they alert and ready? Do they have a rescue tube where it can be easily reached? Are they watching the water? If your answer to any of these questions is no, make sure to voice your concern to them or to a manager.
Finally, make sure to swim with a buddy. Accidents can strike at any time, and having someone with you to react and help is always the best option.
Stay safe, and have a great rest of your summer!
Tom Wittenberg is the aquatics director at the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA. He contributes to the blog YMCA Wellness at kandiymca.areavoices.com.