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As warmer months are just around the corner and life is slowly becoming more normalized, more and more people are beginning to plan their activities and vacations.

One of the most crucial things to consider isn’t where to go and what to do. Instead, it’s how you will protect yourself from the elements while you’re outdoors.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to rent kayaks at River Bend Nature Center or if you’re having a picnic at the park.

Planning to protect yourself from too much exposure is essential for your health and well-being.

Don’t be confused, however. In small doses, sun exposure has significant health benefits, but that exposure should be in moderation.

Getting a daily amount of sun exposure can boost the immune system by providing Vitamin D, elevated moods, and even preventing certain cancers. 

In general, there are more risks associated with sun exposure than there are benefits.

According to the Center for Disease Control, you can do three main things to protect against the risks associated with too much sun exposure.

The three best ways to protect against too much sun exposure and the dangers associated with it are:

  1. Shade

One of the best ways to protect yourself outdoors is to relax and play in a shady area rather than be exposed to direct sunlight.

Of course, this may be easier said than done. Shade coming from tall buildings, trees, and bushes, are great when available so put your items directly under the source of the shade for as long as you can for optimal protection.

If you’re somewhere that shade is at a minimum, you could always consider purchasing a pop-up canopy or even look into the many different types of heavy duty tents that are designed for multiple uses.

There are easy-ups, canopies, tents, and more that offer excellent shade protection, give you a central location to have as a “base,” and be used for multiple people and activities.

2. Hats and Clothing: What you wear and how much it covers your skin is an essential factor to consider.

The CDC recommends that for any activity outside, you should cover any part of your body from head to toe. That recommendation means a hat, preferably a wide-brim one that covers the head and neck and shoulders; a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and shoes.

One last recommendation is that you protect your eyes with sunglasses designed to protect you from UV light, even if you are outside for only a couple of minutes.

3. Sunscreen: Sunscreen is designed to be applied and reapplied regularly, and it is recommended to use sunscreen even on cloudy days.

When selecting a sunscreen, you want to choose a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, which will protect you from UV-A rays and UV-B rays. UV-A rays penetrate the skin at the surface and are the type that causes sunburns, while UV-B rays penetrate through the skin, even into the internal organs.

Also, the SPF number on the sunscreen tells you how long you may be in direct sunlight while wearing the sunscreen.

For example, an SPF of 45 means that you should limit your sun exposure to less than 45 minutes for the best levels of protection.

You should reapply sunscreen every 2-hours unless you’re swimming or sweating, in which case you should apply every hour.

Be aware of your surroundings as well. If you’re near water or even sand, those can reflect sunlight upward as well, and that may lead to added sun exposure.

Finally, some sunscreens may have ingredients that may irritate some people’s skin. If you have sensitive skin or other concerns, look for a sunscreen designed for sensitive skin and apply a small amount on your forearm to test if it will irritate you before applying it over the entire body.

As things warm up and we’re all spending more time outside, doing so in a safe, healthy way is a priority. Protect yourself and protect your loved ones by following these simple tips on avoiding too much sun exposure.

Whether it’s too much sun exposure or from warm summer rains, finding the correct type of protection for you and your family is one of the most overlooked yet essential things you can do.