Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Short Subjects: Safe Fun in the Sun– 2013 Edition

For the last several years, at the start of Summer, I have compiled and posted some best tips for protecting yourself while having fun in the sun. In the northern hemisphere, late June is the time of year when the sun’s rays are the longest and most powerful. Check out this animated graphic if you need convincing. It is also the season when many people spend more time outdoors. 

Being out in the sun can lift your spirits, making you feel good. But unprotected exposure to intense sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States; over 12,000 people die from skin cancer each year. If you are going to be out in the summer sun, particularly between the hours of 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, you really should take some precautionary measures.

EVERYONE who spends time outdoors at this time of year needs a good sunscreen, no matter how dark you are or how easily you tan. All sunscreens are not created equal, and it is impossible to judge the effectiveness of a product from its label alone.

Here are two places to turn for some expert assistance. GoodGuide and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) are excellent sources of the latest test results on sunscreen effectiveness and safety.  Both have updated reports. Here is a link to EWG’s 2013 Guide to Safer Sunscreens and here is one to GoodGuide’s Ratings

GoodGuide is also available as a free app for Android and iPhone. Once you have installed the app, simply scan a product barcode, and, if it is in the GoodGuide database, you will get its rating instantly. GoodGuide is particularly useful if you don’t have time to shop online and are limited to the selection in your neighborhood store. You may not be able to purchase the highest rated product, but GoodGuide will help you make the best choice of what is available.

DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. [Popsicles work, too, especially the juice ones you make yourself.]

And, DON’T FORGET A HAT. Tilley, Sunday Afternoons, and Outdoor Research offer protective headgear in a wide range of styles. Some hats can even make you feel cooler. They can be found in outdoor outfitters including EMSREI, and TrailBlazer, as well as online. Hats can be serious, silly,  stylish — whatever works for you. If you insist on wearing a baseball cap, be sure to protect your neck and ears.

Me and my hat in Point Lobos, CA — ready for adventure
Here’s wishing you a safe and happy summer… Good times.

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

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