Summertime is here, but it’s not all fun in the sun for most of us! And just because you’re going to work and not the beach, doesn’t mean you get the day off from the sun.
Before your commute plan ahead. Check the weather – what’s the temperature and the air quality? Wear loose / light-weight clothing, preferably cotton that is lightly colored. Loosen the tie and roll up your sleeves on the way to work. Choosing your wardrobe accordingly is the key to staying cool and comfortable.
Keeping hydrated is imperative: you should consume water every 15 minutes during extremely hot days. Pack a water bottle before you head out. Dehydration can come on very quickly, especially while you’re waiting for the bus or train. If you work outdoors or in indoor areas that register high temperatures, make sure to consume plenty of fluids and have them available. Stay away from drinking too many caffeinated beverages. They can accelerate dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much fluid and can cause headache, muscle cramps, nausea and can make you may feel faint.
Sun block is not just for the beach!
Studies show that a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any point in life. So make sure to wear sun block and lip-balm rated at 15-30 spf (UVA/UVB) to protect your skin. Especially if you working outdoors you should apply sun block if your going to be in direct sun for more than 15 minutes. There are also brands of moisturizers that have 15- spf and above, and you can buy travel size sun-block at most stores.
Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States (US) so pay attention to any abnormal marks or lesions on your skin. Remember, even walking down the street you’re exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays (UV).
For those who work outdoors or take mass transit-wear a hat; it will help keep the sun of your face and head.
If you’re taking any medications for blood pressure or infection, you need to be aware of the side effects from extreme heat and the sun. Certain blood pressure medications can make you susceptible to overheating. Antibiotics can make you extremely sensitive to sunburn. Do not stop taking your medications unless you speak with your physician first!
A note for our seniors: the US has the largest geriatric population in its history, with baby boomers turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 people everyday. Many are working later in life. Seniors need to take the proper precautions dealing with the heat, meaning everything above, and don’t over exert yourself outdoors.
Employers: make sure the air conditioning is operating properly in your facilities and make sure cold water is readily available. Establish cooling centers for employees who work outdoors and make sure they’re taking proper break time. Keeping your employees cool and hydrated will keep them productive and more importantly – happy!
Dr. Strange is the associate chairman, Department of Medicine, and vice president, South Site Medical Operations.