Summer is the season outdoor enthusiasts welcome with open arms. Who doesn’t enjoy clear skies, blooming buds, warm weather and extended daylight?

While summer can bring great pleasure for outdoor enthusiasts, it can also bring great problems such as dehydration, heat stroke, sunburn and long term skin damage.

Before you lace up your hiking boots and embark on a fun day in the sun, ensure you are 100% sun-wise with these essential tips.

Protect Your Skin

Before slap comes slop. 20 minutes before you embark on your outdoor adventure, rub a high SPF sunscreen on your skin. This is especially important if you are hiking at high altitude, as UV rays increase with altitude; 4% for every 305 meters. Ensure neglected areas are also covered such as the back of your neck, the tip of your ears and your hands. If you are hiking with poles, wear sunscreen on your inner forearms as they will be more exposed to the sun.

Remember to shade and shield your face, neck and eyes with a quality hat and a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses.

Invest in UPF Clothing

The more of your body you can safeguard from the sun, the happier you’ll be. While all clothing offers some degree of protection, UPF clothing is an invaluable option for extra protection against harmful UV radiation, sunburn and long-term skin damage, such as skin cancer. Before choosing your UPF garments, it’s important to consider the UPF ratings, as garments rated below UPF 15 are not considered UV-protective.

Below is the ASTM Standard for Sun Protective Clothing and Swimwear:

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration seriously affects physical performance, especially during hot, dry conditions, and if not rectified can lead to fatigue, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and tissue damage. Taking small sips of water before you become thirsty and adding electrolytes will assist in preventing dehydration.

To avoid water intoxication, don’t drink more than your thirst level indicates and remember that the maximum amount of water that your gastrointestinal tract can absorb is about 800ml per hour.

The right fabrics and garments play an important role in keeping your body temperature and fluid balance right. Covering up with technical fabrics on hot days helps conserve your fluids and using wicking fabrics helps your body’s evaporative cooling mechanism.

Learn How to Identify Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

As mentioned above, these two health conditions can be caused by physical exertion during high temperatures. Both conditions are a result of an increase in body temperature and the inability to control it.

Heat Exhaustion is likely to occur when your body temperature is above 37°C but below 40°C.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Weakened pulse
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fatigue
  • Profuse sweating

Heat Stroke is a serious heat-induced condition that is likely to occur if a body temperature exceeds 40°C.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke:

  • Dry skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Concentrated pupils
  • Headache
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Thirst
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps

Essential tips to help prevent and combat heat-induced conditions during your hike:

  • During your hike, drink at least 2-3 litres and supplement water with an electrolyte or isotonic drink
  • Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
  • Wear loose, lightweight and light-coloured clothing
  • Slip, slop slap
  • Limit physical activity during hot temperatures

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