Steer Clear of Heat-Related Illnesses this Summer

As summer gets set to hit full swing, scores of people across the country are readying themselves for backyard barbecues, trips to the beach or casual afternoons spent soaking up some sun. While spending as much time as possible outdoors is a summertime tradition, soaking up too much sun can be dangerous. In addition to painful sunburns and dehydration, overexposure to the sun can also result in skin cancer. In fact, according to the SkinCancer Foundation, 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Those planning on taking advantage of the warmer weather and catching as many rays as possible also must work to prevent other heat-related illnesses. To do so, consider the following tips from the American Red Cross.

Dress accordingly. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects some of the sun's energy away. Also consider wearing a hat whenever possible, or at least during the midday hours when the sun's rays are at their strongest. When sitting out in the sun, be it at the beach or in the backyard, it's also wise to use an umbrella.

Drink plenty of water. Caffeinated or alcoholic beverages dehydrate the body. When spending time in the sun, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, even if you don't feel thirsty.

Don't overdo your diet with protein. Diets high in protein increase metabolic heat, thereby raising your risk for a heat-related illness. When it comes to diet in the hotter months, it's best to eat smaller meals and eat more often.

Take a break. If you're going outside to mow the lawn or work on the garden, be sure to take plenty of breaks and do so either indoors or under ample shade.

Jog early. Joggers are often especially devoted to their daily runs. However, joggers, no matter how experienced and devoted, are still susceptible to heat-related illnesses. If possible, run during the coolest period of the day, which is typically early morning between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

While summer is a favorite season for many people across the country, it can also be a dangerous time for those who aren't careful. To learn more about staying safe in the sun, visit the American Red Cross Web site at www.redcross.org.

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