It's been a long winter, so naturally the warmer weather is welcomed by most of us. Now summer is upon us, before we get too excited about all that fun we are going to have in the sun, we should stop and think about staying safe under those blazing rays. Heat Awareness Day 2018 falls on 26 May and is designed as a reminder for us to consider summer essentials, such as wearing the right sun screen and being sensible under the sun. In case you miss this campaign on social media, we are supporting it by offering up a few tips of our own about staying healthy and happy while you soak up the sun this summer.
1. Wear sun cream
This is the most obvious holiday essential, and the most important. There’s no doubt that having a nice tan makes us feel better, but it really isn’t good for our skin. You can't have missed the many warnings in the media about over exposure to the damaging UV rays, but you might not realise you have to think hard about sun cream, as they are very different and do not all offer the required level of protection. Many of the oils, while boosting your tan, do little to screen your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
It is all about SPF - sun protection factor. A sun block's SPF rating tells you the level of protection it will give you. What you are being protected from is ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) which, in the main, is responsible for sunburn. The SPF scale for sunscreen runs from 2 to 50+ and, for children, when they are not protected by clothing, it should be nothing less than a factor 50+ and should always be applied to their face.
As for yourself... You must be aware of the ageing and health impacts of too much sun on your skin, so we'd recommend a high factor, especially of you're going to be out all day. To give you an idea, the popular SPF 15 sun cream blocks about 93% of UVB radiation - your SPF 50 will keep out 98%.The British Association of Dermatologists recommend you use a sun cream with an SPF 30 minimum. Look out for those especially formulated for children which are often designed for easy application, as well as total protection.
Pale and fairer skin types burn more readily, so if you have that skin type, you should not take any chances and use the highest SPF cream available.
Don't forget those hard to reach places, such as your back or back of legs, and places we oddly overlook when slathering on the sun cream, such as your ears and around your eyes - though the right pair of quality sunglasses should help with that. Why not make the most of the airport duty-free and treat yourself to a new pair before you board? Often, we forget to put sun cream on our feet and toes too and if you burn there, you will struggle to get your shoes on!
The sun cream should be applied 30 minutes before you plan to be out in the sun to be truly effective, and you should make sure you reapply it regularly throughout the day, especially after swimming even if it says on the bottle that it is waterproof.
And remember, even on cloudy days you can burn, so don’t be fooled! For the skiers among you, it is equally important you apply sun cream to your face to avoid burning when out on the dazzling slopes.
Why not use a fake tan instead? Most of us apply it before we go out, so we could continue to do so throughout our holiday to ensure we achieve that golden glow without frying ourselves under the sun. Though remember, a cream which promotes a fake tan is not a sunscreen and offers no protection from the harmful UVB rays.
2. Stay in the shade
You know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen... Well, don't follow them out into the midday sun! It's not sensible and it is the time of day when you are at highest risk of sunburn. It's best to keep out of the sun during the hottest part of the day - usually from around 10am to 2pm. Why not use some of that time to relax over a long leisurely lunch in the shade, or do what many of the locals do and enjoy a siesta to refresh yourself for the evening's entertainment.
Why not find a local garden to explore? We have lots of great recommendations of beautiful gardens around the world for you to read about in our blog on the Six of the world’s top gardens. You can find winding paths bathed in the shade of trees and larger plants, or wander around the greenhouses where you can enjoy the plants away from the scorching sun. Botanical gardens will always have a café where you can stop for a bite to eat and take shelter from the sun. Many formal gardens have the bonus of being old family estates, where you can often take tours of the house or on-site museum - an interesting way to spend a few hours!
You can still get out and about when it is hot. If you have hired a car, enjoy driving out to some of the small towns or villages away from the busy tourist areas, and have a refreshing drink in one of the local eateries. Many towns and villages have squares where the locals gather, and which often have tree-shaded canopies to sit under. It has the added bonus of giving you the chance to chat with some friendly locals, and you also get to enjoy the views on the drive!
Hitting the shops is another great way of spending a few hours out of the sun. Meander around the charming little towns and villages, and explore some of the souvenir shops to see what trinkets you can take home. You'll keep out of the heat, but still enjoy being out and about during the day.
One of the best things to do on holiday is to relax in the spa - you are on holiday after all! Many of the RCI-affiliated resorts have on-site spas and wellness centres where you can get a luxurious massage, or treat yourself to a rejuvenating treatment to really get you in that holiday mode.You'll return back home feeling as though you really have had the best holiday.
If you do want to check when it is safe to venture out of the shade, the Wolfram Sun Exposure app is a great little tool that can help calculate when it is safest in the area you are out and about in. Simply enter a few details about your skin type and it will calculate the strength of the sun where you are and how quickly you will burn if exposed.
You can use this information to work out how long it would be safe to be out in the heat and make your day's plans around it. Handy!
3. Cover up
If you’re planning on being out in the sun all day, it is best to cover up by wearing long, lightweight clothing and a big hat that covers the back of your neck. It is equally important not to overheat too, so make sure you haven't layered up too much! Natural fabrics, such as cotton, will keep you cool and comfortable in the hottest of weather and having a little fan to hand helps you to feel fresher throughout the day.
Don't forget that sunglasses are another holiday essential and just as much part of your 'stay safe in the sun' kit as your sunblock. As with the sunblock creams, you need to wear quality sunglasses with the right level of protection to guard not just the delicate skin around your eyes, but your eyes themselves - and they can even protect you from developing those pesky crow's feet wrinkles!
Look for those marked 'UV 400' which offer the highest level of protection. There are many different kinds and you need to do your research. People with degenerative eye conditions should be especially careful and might even consider wrap-around sunglasses.
Many sunny holidays are spent lounging by the pool or on the beach and while this makes for a great relaxing holiday activity, try and get a good spot in the shade. Relax under an umbrella while sipping a nice cold drink, or sit down in the shade of a large palm tree while getting lost in a good book.
4. Cool off
Summer holidays wouldn’t be the same without a pool or the sea to cool off in, so make sure you use them! Rather than wandering around your resort melting, dive into the pool for a nice refreshing dip. Have a swim, or even join in with a game of water polo with the other guests, either way you’ll have fun, keep fit and feel a lot better.
Non-swimmers don't have to miss out on the fun either. Stay in the shallow end of the pool where you can easily stand up or hold onto the side so you can cool down too. If you're on the beach for the day, sit on the shore and let the waves cool you down as they roll onto the sand. Alternatively, get a bat and ball and have a game while standing in the sea - you'll stay cool and still have fun in the sun.
Though, don't forget the water can reflect the sun’s rays so make sure you have applied lots of sun cream so you don’t burn. As above, sunglasses are always advised too.
5. Stay hydrated
When it's hot, you need to stay hydrated, so make sure you’re drinking lots of water throughout the day, it’s vital you keep up your water intake. Dehydration occurs with water loss from excessive sweating - which obviously happens a lot easier in hot weather. It can cause muscle cramps, weakness, headaches, and nausea and vomiting, which isn't a good thing when out on your holiday.
Unfortunately, alcohol does not class as a liquid that will keep you hydrated and, in fact, can stimulate sweating and body processes that speed up dehydration - hence the hang-over feeling when you have one too many. As appealing as a nice, refreshing cocktail or three might sound, make sure you balance it with water intake and food. Tea and coffee are also best taken in moderation, as caffeine also has a dehydrating effect on the body.
For those who are on long-term medications, the elderly and the little ones, they have to make sure water intake is a priority to avoid getting the dreaded heat exhaustion as they are more susceptible. Over exposure to the sun's rays and heat can be dangerous so it is best to follow all the tips to make sure you stay healthy and happy in the sun.
Though, the hot weather is also a great excuse to eat lots of ice lollies - cooling and delicious!
So whether you are jetting off somewhere tropical, or having a UK staycation, take note of all these tips and have fun in the sun!
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