Tips to Beat the Summer Heat

By ecoRI News staff

Here are some summer safety tips from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lovingly tweaked by ecoRI News.

Excessive heat and ultraviolet (UV) radiation are dangerous to people’s health. Each year, more people on average die in the United States from heat waves than from any other natural disaster. And every hour, one American dies from skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the country.

During the summer, days are longer and more people are outside for longer periods of time, increasing the health risks from heat exhaustion and overexposure to the sun. Cities and suburbs are particularly vulnerable to higher temperatures during the summer. Many cities and suburbs have air temperatures that can be up to 22 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding countryside. Buildings and roads intensify heat and UV dangers as they absorb the sun’s rays and radiate the heat back throughout the day and night, known as the heat-island effect. Heat islands can intensify heat waves. To help reduce the heat-island effect, plant trees, shrubs and vines, which create shade and protect people from UV radiation.

To avoid heat exhaustion and overexposure to the sun, follow these steps to stay cool and safe this summer:

Stay hydrated.But for the sake of all things holy, don’t buy bottled water. Get yourself a reusable bottle and drink from the tap. It’s practically free.

Wear lightweight clothing. To keep your body temperature down and stay protected from UV radiation, wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Long pants are preferred when you are in any area where you could pick up ticks.

Apply sunscreen. About 30 minutes before heading outside, apply SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, and reapply every two hours. The EPA just released UVA standards for sunscreen. Make sure your lotion works for UVA and UVB rays.

Protect your eyes and face. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes from sun damage and the development of cataracts. Hats are super-important if, like our own Dave Fisher, you are as bald as the day you were born.

Seek shade. Find shade during the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to reduce the risk of too much sun exposure. Here is a list of "cooling stations" across Rhode Island to help you beat the heat.

Teach sun and heat safety. Keep an eye on others, particularly the elderly; remind them to be safe in the sun and the heat. Watch for signs of heat illnesses, which can include hot and dry skin, confusion, hallucinations and aggression.

Check the UV/Air Quality Index. When planning outdoor activities, check the UV index to identify the times that pose the greatest risk for overexposure to the sun. On hot days, ozone levels can rise making the air unhealthy to breathe so be sure to check the air quality index before heading outside. Also, remember that all RIPTA busses are free on Air Quality Alert days.