Sun Sense – Safe Sunbathing
Summer 2009 is set to be a scorcher so say the boys at the Met Office and BBC weather men who we all know are rarely wrong. Weather forecasts for sun are often accompanied by advice urging sun protection – here we take a closer look at what you can do to stay safe in the sun.
I was a little perturbed to read this article about the myths associated with sunbathing however being a strong supporter and occasional user of the NHS I favour the opinions about binge sunbathing from medical experts.
Cases of skin cancer have doubled in the UK over the past two decades, and each year thousands of new cases are reported. We’ve all been told a thousand times to avoid too much sun exposure, wear a hat, use sunscreen, and wear UV-blocking sunglasses – but the fact is many of us still feel better with a tan, and nothing will stop us from spending time soaking up the sun.
One positive health benefit we get from sunlight is that it enables us to produce vitamin D. But unfortunately the same UVB ultraviolet rays that stimulate vitamin D production also cause skin cancer and premature ageing. And while a healthy-looking tan may be attractive, the ‘wrinkled prune effect’ you could have in a decade’s time will be less than alluring…
All sun worshippers can enjoy catching a few rays – but there are a few simple precautions you must take in order to do it safely.
The more you cover up, the longer you can stay out in the sun and the less likely you are to get burnt. But if you’re going somewhere very hot, or if you burn easily, there are also special sun protective clothing ranges . A cheap sarong bought from a beach hawker may offer you a bit of sun protection, but you could still get burnt wearing one. An SPF 50 sarong from a specialist supplier such as Sunsibility, however, will offer much more reliable protection — as will their range of other beachwear and clothing such as t-shirts and hats.
At the beginning of your holiday, don’t sit out in the sun all day long – let your skin get used to it gradually, with a little more exposure each day. Even once your skin is more used to the sun, avoid exposure between 11:00 and 15:00 when the rays are at their strongest.
Slap on the suncream
The rules for sun cream are straightforward: always apply it, and do so half an hour before you go in the sun; opt for a high protection of SPF15 sun cream or above (particularly at the start of your holiday – but preferably throughout); re-apply it regularly; and never apply it too thinly. An eggcup-full is recommended for all over the body, every 2-3 hours. If you need insect repellent, apply it on top or the sun cream may not absorb into your skin properly.
Riemann P20 Sunfilter
A convenient alternative to sun cream, particularly for the sporty or forgetful, is Riemann’s P20 Sunfilter. It only has to be applied once a day, and is still 90 percent effective after swimming. Check out Riemann P20 sunfilter for once a day sun protection
Drink plenty of (non-alcoholic!) drinks while sitting in the sun to prevent dehydration. Dehydration combined with sun exposure can lead to heat exhaustion or even sunstroke, which is potentially fatal.
Check on the children in the sun
Most kids rack up some 50-80 percent of their lifetime’s sun exposure before they reach the age of 18, so it’s important to look after their skin early on. Children are more susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun because their skin is thinner the younger they are. Many parents choose a cream with a higher sun factor, swimsuits that offer more coverage, or take a parasol to the beach to provide shade.
As climate change continues to have an effect on global weather it is predicted that in Europe we will see higher temperatures and more intense sunshine. Ironically many still consider this to be a benefit of climate change however aid agencies and disaster relief organisations are highlighting the devastating effects that global warming is having on the weather elsewhere around the world and causing catastrophic misery and poverty for communities who are least responsible for the carbon emissions that are a primary cause of the warming effects of global climate change.
Enjoy your holiday in the sun without worrying about the consequences of the sun but do think about those less fortunate and for whom climate change means drough, famine and desperation.
Remember “life’s a beach, and then you fry” is best applied to a t-shirt.