Staying safe in the summer sun

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With the warming temperatures, we can be sure that summer is just around the corner! 
Hopefully, you are able to spend the majority of your summer days in a cool and comfortable place and avoid the soaring temperatures and sweltering humidity. However, it is not possible to completely beat the heat—many people are required to work outside and many of us enjoy outdoor summer activities such as fishing, swimming, and gardening.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 3.3 million Americans are reported to have cases of basal and/or squamous cell skin cancer each year. It is important to remember that every person, regardless of ethnicity and age, is susceptible to skin damage caused by harmful UV rays from the sun or other artificial UV rays such as those found in tanning beds. Even people who have skin tones that normally tan instead of burn should take caution when spending time outdoors.
The American Cancer Society lists several tips on their website on how to prevent skin cancer:
Seek shade, especially in the middle of the day (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Teach children the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
Follow the Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap! rules:
Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you can not see through when held up to a light. 
Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen and lip balm with broad spectrum protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen (about a palm full) to all areas of unprotected skin. Reapply every two hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or sweating. 
Slap on a hat: Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, shading your face, ears, and neck. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen. 
Wrap on sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption to protect your eyes and the surrounding skin. 
Sunscreen does not protect from all UV rays, so do not use sunscreen as a way to stay out in the sun longer.
Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays can travel through clouds.
Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous. They damage your skin and can cause cancer.
Carry a refillable water bottle with you, or keep a glass of drinking water readily available throughout the day.
Tired of plain water? Give it some flavor with a wedge of lemon or lime, slices of cucumber, or a splash of 100 percent fruit juice.
Eat water-rich, fresh fruits and vegetables including watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery. Not only will they help keep you hydrated, they can also help replace key minerals lost when you sweat.
For more information on staying safe in the summer sun, call your local UT Extension Office at 989-2103.

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