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Staying Safe in the Sun

Although basking in the sun is relaxing and fun, it can also be dangerous for your health. Skin cancer is prevalent – it’s the most common form of cancer in the United States, with over 2 million people diagnosed annually.
Even more startling, sun exposure is the primary cause of over 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer cases reported in the United States. Keep reading for more information about risk factors for skin cancer and how to stay safe in the sun.

Skin Cancer

People are most susceptible to skin cancer when exposed to sudden, short bursts of sunlight in places where sun rays are exceptionally strong, such as locations near the equator or at very high altitudes. Some people possess characteristics that place them at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. These risks include:

  • Having many moles on the body
  • Having red or blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin, or freckles
  • Having trouble tanning or having skin that burns easily
  • Having a family history of skin cancer
  • Taking medication that increases sun sensitivity

Sun Safety Tips

Follow these tips to stay safe in the sun:

  • Stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is at its peak in the sky.
  • Wear clothes made of tightly woven fabrics and a hat that shields your face, neck, and ears.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your retinas and prevent the development of cataracts.
  • Use at least an SPF 15 sunscreen, and apply all over your body.
  • Do not use tanning beds–they are just as damaging as natural sunlight.

Healthy Hints

Avoiding excessive sun exposure is ultimately the best way to protect your body from skin cancer. If you must be in the sun, wear sunscreen and routinely inspect your body for changes like new freckles or enlarged moles. If you suspect that a spot on your skin is new or has changed in appearance, consult a dermatologist immediately.

Outdoor Safety

The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for your trip. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, your body’s limitations, plus a little common sense, can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Below are some tips on how to have a safe summer:

  • Travel with a companion. Avoid traveling alone in case of an emergency.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person.
  • Be aware of your footing while traveling near cliffs. Trees and bushes can’t always be trusted to support you. Stay on developed trails or dry rock areas with solid footing.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Dress appropriately for trail conditions and the season.
  • Check your equipment. Keep your equipment in good working order and inspect your gear before your trip – don’t wait until you are at the trailhead. Be sure to pack emergency signaling devices.
  • Be weather-wise. Keep an eye on current and predicted weather conditions. Know the signs of approaching storms or changing forecasts. Avoid bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams, and rocks during lightning storms.
  • Learn basic first aid. Know how to identify and treat injuries and illnesses and carry a first aid kit with you. Learn how to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, hypothermia, and dehydration, and to treat them.
  • Think before you drink. No matter how clean or pure stream water looks, it’s likely to contain water-borne parasites and microorganisms that can cause discomfort and sometimes serious illness. Pack clean water or purify through chemical treatment.

For more tips on how to be safe this summer, check out U.S Forest Service’s website.

 Weir, Kirsten. “Nurtured by Nature”. American Psychological Association. . Accessed 5 May 2022

Nurtured by Nature

Our increasing reliance on technology, combined with a global trend toward urban living means many of us are spending less time outdoors –even as scientists compile evidence of the value of getting out into the natural world.

From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, less stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders, and even upticks in empathy and cooperation. Nature comes in all shapes and sizes, and psychological research is still fine-tuning our understanding of its potential benefits.

Spending time in nature has cognitive benefits, but it also has emotional and existential benefits that go beyond just being able to solve arithmetic problems more quickly. Both correlational and experimental research has shown that interacting with nature has cognitive benefits. Researchers compared the outcomes of people who walked outside in either natural or urban settings with people who watched videos of similar outdoor scenes. They found that any exposure to nature–in person or video–led to improvements in attention, positive emotions, and the ability to reflect on a life problem; however, the effects were more pronounced among those who spent time outside.