How to Safely Enjoy the Summer Sun in Michigan
There’s something special about summertime in Michigan. The smell of fresh-cut grass, flowers blooming, and dirt in your hands as gardens are planted. Feeling the warm summer sun on your skin, hearing the sound of sprinklers and children laughing, and smelling barbecue and bonfires.
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Now more than ever, we appreciate the outdoors after surviving a global pandemic and many people are fulfilling their adventurous bucket lists.
Late nights are spent stargazing
and storytelling around the campfire. Going “up north” is a custom for many. We fire up the grill, drink Faygo, and swap recipes. We shop at local farmer’s markets. We ride bikes. We walk to get our steps in. We book every weekend with gatherings, golf outings, attend concerts, and go on camping trips.
With over 10,000 lakes in Michigan, you’re sure to explore the various beaches that Michigan boasts. Many people spend their summer sunbathing or enjoying their boats, kayaks, canoes, water skis, and other water sports.
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The beauty of living in a state with four seasons
is by the time we make it through one, we are more than ready for the next.
With all the fun in the sun, it’s no secret that Michigan summers are hot! It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and forget about safety.
So here are a few tips to enjoy the sun safely this summer to avoid:
•tick born illnesses
Three letters: SPF!
SPF is short for Sun Protection Factor. The number you see on bottles is assigned to sunscreens that describe how well they protect against sunburn-causing UVB rays.
If you apply 2mg of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin, SPF 30 sunscreen blocks out 96% of UVB rays. If you only apply half of this amount, you will only block out about half of the UVB rays.
How to apply SPF:
Your skin can take up to a half-hour to absorb the sunscreen. So, plan ahead and apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. And don’t skimp on the sunscreen. Most people don’t apply enough or they apply when they’re already outside. Apply at a minimum of 15 minutes before heading outdoors
Water-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof.
Water-resistant sunscreens need to be applied after swimming or excessive sweating. These sunscreens aren’t completely waterproof and need to be reapplied every 40-80 minutes if you’re excessively sweating or after water activities.
Opt for the lotions vs. the sprays. Sprays are less controlled than lotions because it may mist in the air before hitting your skin without you realizing it. Sprays are usually invisible so you can’t see the coverage on your skin. Sprays offer less coverage than lotions if you don’t effectively cover which can lead to sunburns.
Higher SPF doesn’t always mean better coverage. Even if you’re using a sunscreen with an SPF of 100+, it’s important to reapply regularly. Sunscreens with higher SPFs don’t necessarily last longer. Most dermatologists recommend an SPF of 30-50 for normal skin types.
Check your sunscreen to make sure it’s not expired. Taking care of your largest organ can also help prevent certain cancers and diseases. Talk to your doctor to see what they recommend for your skin type.
The summer sun can also lead to heat stroke if you’re not well prepared for the weather. Heatstroke occurs when the body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees or higher.
Symptoms can include confusion, altered speech, nausea or vomiting, rapid breathing, and a racing heartbeat among other symptoms. The condition is usually a result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures or physical exertion in high temperatures.
•Know your limits.
•Wear loose-fitting clothing.
•Allow yourself time to get acclimated to the elements.
Getting acclimated to working or exercising in the heat is recommended until you’re conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
Hydration is always important, but especially in hot and humid weather. With various outdoor activities to choose from, we tend to lose a lot of our body fluids through sweat without even realizing it.
One way to stay hydrated is to remind yourself that the human body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. Your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints. Water is needed for overall good health.
Keeping a reusable water bottle around to refill on demand is a great way to get those 6-8 glasses in each day.
If you don’t hydrate yourself, you can experience dehydration.
Your urine can be an indicator if you’re dehydrated. If it’s colorless or light yellow, you’re well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber color, you may be dehydrated.
Some people are at higher risk of dehydration, including people who exercise at a high intensity (or in hot weather) for too long, have certain medical conditions (such as kidney stones, bladder infections), are sick (fever, vomiting, diarrhea), are pregnant or breastfeeding, are trying to lose weight, or aren’t able to get enough fluids during the day. Older adults are also at higher risk. As you get older, your brain may not be able to sense dehydration. It doesn’t send signals for thirst.
The reason dehydration becomes a threat to our bodies is due to the fact that our bodies are made up of more than 70% water. If it is lacking, your systems may shut down, so stay hydrated.
Understand how to prevent tick bites
A tick feeds by way of a two-pronged mouthpart (hypostome) held in place with salivary cement and secured with tiny backward-pointing barbs. If you get bitten by a tick you must remove it.
To remove the tick, use narrow-tipped tweezers and grasp it as close to the skin as possible; then pull upward slowly and steadily. If the mouthpart remains in the skin, try to remove it. If you can’t remove it all, check with your clinician immediately.
Wash your skin and hands with soap and warm water. If you’re looking for a great cleansing antibacterial, organic soap check out this Michigan small business.
Never crush or squeeze an attached tick, don’t try to burn it with a lighted match, and don’t apply any substance like petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, alcohol, or pesticides. If you do, the tick may regurgitate its stomach contents into your skin, increasing the chance of infection.
Some diseases you can get from a tick bite are Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind when thinking about the risk of tick bites is your location. Michigan is home to various types of ticks. The type or species of a tick determines what diseases it may carry.
To prevent ticks:
1. Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.
2. Wear light-colored protective clothing.
3. Tuck your pant legs into socks.
4. Avoid tick-infested areas.
5. Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks.
There are many outdoor activities to enjoy in the Michigan summer sun, but knowing these few safety tips to help you and your family stay safe and healthy will allow more fun and less worry.
Cheers to good health!
Teri, Michigan Mama News, Health and Wellness Blogger