By Zachary Morton
With summer heat waves starting to arrive, many will be going outside to take care of their crops and flowers from the blistering heat. But doing all this work can bring with it the dangers of dehydration, sunburns, and even breathing problems.
Dr. Jeff Hoffman of Cabarrus Family Medicine in Concord offers this advice to help protect you when going outside to work.
1. Wear an appropriate hat.
When wearing a hat, opt for a hat that has at least a 2-inch brim, instead of a ball cap. Why?
“It provides better coverage to your ears. Most people often forget to apply sunscreen to them, which makes them more vulnerable to sunburn, and even skin cancer.”
2. Use the right sunscreen.
With so many different brands and levels of SPF to choose from, Hoffman says one with at least an SPF of 30 will do.
“A broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 will do the job. Anything over that is really overkill, and I wouldn’t buy those, unless they are on sale.” And reapply regularly.
“You want to try to reapply about every other hour to minimize sunburn. If you sweat a lot, you may want to reapply a little sooner. But be sure you apply to all exposed areas, even your ears.”
3. Stay well hydrated and cool.
“Water will do the job when needing to replace the fluids that you loose working outside in the heat. You don’t really need any type of sports drinks, unless you’re going to be outside for more than an hour.” But be mindful of the signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion.
“Anytime you start to feel weak, lightheaded, and/or cold, stop what you are doing immediately, and go to a cool spot and drink plenty of fluids.”
4. Know when to work outside.
“If you can, try to take care of your outdoor work anytime before 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Those are typically the coolest parts of the day.”
5. Pay attention to the air quality level.
Typically, higher temperatures bring with them a higher air quality index rating that affect people with breathing conditions.
“On days like we will be having for the next few days, we may experience a code orange level. This means that people with breathing conditions, such as COPD and asthma, will be affected the most. Those people need to limit the amount of time they spend outside.”