Chill out: Important cheats to beat the summer heat
In just three days, one of the city’s biggest summer traditions kicks off: The Ann Arbor Art Fair.
That means thousands of visitors will descend upon the city for art, music, food and fun in the hot sun. If you’re planning to be one of those fair-goers — or if you have any other outdoor activities scheduled across the state over the next few months — there are important things to keep in mind to ensure you protect yourself against the elements.
Water is essential to staying safe during the summer. It replenishes the fluids you lose when you sweat and even helps protect you against sun burns (more on that later).
Keep a water bottle with you and be sure to avoid alcohol or sugary and caffeinated drinks. They just cause the body to become even more dehydrated.
Speaking of sun burns, they are a major risk during the summer months, when the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are at their strongest. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and tight-knit, sun-protective clothing. On top of that, slather on sunscreen at all times (at least an SPF-30 broad-spectrum product).
Even those measures won’t prevent all sun burns. If you do get burned, don’t waste time treating the injury:
- Moisturize your skin while it is still damp with Aloe Vera or soy.
- Let blisters heal, since they are your body’s natural way of protecting itself against further damage.
- Drink water: The fluid in your body will automatically be used to help treat the burn, so be sure to replenish so that you don’t get dehydrated.
- Take a cool shower: This will not only feel good, but you can pat yourself dry to keep your skin damp.
- Take ibuprofen or Tylenol to reduce redness or swelling.
Check your skin regularly
Sun burns aren’t the only danger of ultraviolet rays.
“It is the cumulative exposure to sun that ultimately predisposes a person to skin cancer and accelerated aging,” said Frank Wang, M.D., an associate professor of clinical dermatology at Michigan Medicine.
That leads to the next tip … After a day outside, and at least once a month year-round, take a look at your skin.
“If caught early, most types of skin cancer are easily treatable,” Wang said. “Look for any new or changing moles or spots that you may not have noticed before.”
The Rogel Cancer Center provides a self-check guide to help you monitor your skin for anything that may be abnormal.
Know the warning signs of heat-related illness
Pay attention to how you are feeling. If there’s any dizziness, nausea or headaches, get help. They can be signs of dehydration or heat stroke.
Frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning can help the symptoms subside, but if they don’t, seek assistance from a medical professional.
Monitor the weather
You know what they say about Michigan weather: if you don’t like it, wait five minutes. But the ever-changing weather patterns can put you in some danger.
Floods, tornadoes and lightning are all threats that come with summer thunderstorms, which can hit quickly. Plan ahead. Have a weather radio, follow media reports or use an app on your phone to track the anticipated weather for that day. If severe weather is forecast, consider changing your plans.
Finally, should a storm hit, find shelter immediately, indoors and away from windows.
These tips should help you enjoy Ann Arbor, the region and all the outdoors have to offer over the next few months.
Happy Art Fair Week and happy summer, Michigan Medicine!