Thursday, July 1, 2010

Safe Fun in the Sun

It is now 10 days since the Summer Solstice, the day on which the Northern Hemisphere receives more sun than on any other day of the year.  The July 4th long weekend is on the horizon, and the beach beckons. Even though it will most likely not be as hot on the shore as it is in August, it is important to remember that it is now, at the very beginning of Summer, that the sun’s rays are the strongest. Everyone needs some good protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

The advice is relatively simple. Try to avoid being in the sun between the hours of 10 and 2, when the sun is directly overhead. When you do venture out, especially during those hours, be sure to use a good sunscreen, and do consider wearing a hat, doing some covering-up, and sitting in the shade of an umbrella when you are not hitting the surf.

The Environmental Working Group recently published its list of recommended sunscreens. Unfortunately, the list is very short, and not all the “best” sunscreens are easily found. If you go to the site,  you can also search for any sunscreen you already own to discover its rating. I found one of mine in the second tier and plan to use it until I can locate a better one. Whatever you do, be sure to use and re-apply your chosen sunscreen as directed.

I am not a hat person normally, but I picked up a couple of pamphlets in the dermatologist’s office a couple of weeks ago. (Don’t worry -  eczema flare-up, not skin cancer.) Tilley claims to have the “Best-Made and Most Practical ‘Outdoor’ Hats in the World. Their hats float (should they get away while you are on or near the water), are insured “against loss or grievous damage” for the first two years, and offer protection from insects in a couple of models. I have to say that theirs is a traditional line. Some Tilley hats are somewhat dorky looking and others have that “garden party” look which is definitely not me.

Adventure Hat Sand/Black LG by Sunday Afternoon HatsSunday Afternoons offers hats with a little more style, particularly in the women’s models. I can almost imagine myself sporting the best-selling  “Adventure Hat.” It comes in many colors, and the name is so full of promise.

Both Tilley and Sunday Afternoons have a choice of colorful hats for kids. Once again, the Sunday Afternoons models are a little less staid, with fuller coverage for the neck (without the Lawrence of Arabia look). I wish I’d known about these when my own kid was younger. Doubt I could talk him into any of these right now. They also list protective shirts and swim shirts for active kids, who just don’t want to sit in the shade.

Hats from both companies can be purchased online at the company sites, through Amazon (see search box at left), and at many retail outlets. Just visit their websites for a store locator. (Tilley can be found at DelMonico Hatter in New Haven.) I have one tip for you. These hats are a little pricey. You might want to consider choosing a model with a chin strap attached. I recently saw an attorney I know chasing her Tilley down Orange Street after a sudden breeze.

Protect Yourself. Skin cancer is on the rise; there are now over one million cases diagnosed each year. It can be deadly. But you can also lower your risk by following some or all of this pretty simple advice. Whatever you do, stay away from tanning beds.

Have a Happy and safe Fourth!

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