It’s nearing summertime, and that means people will be going outside more, bathing in the sunshine, diving into pools and enjoying nature.
You’ve undoubtedly been given advice throughout your life to help you stay safe in the summertime, but not all advice is equal.
Some advice you receive is good, like wearing a life jacket out on the water. Other tips are less helpful, like your buddy’s insistence that you can trade a shower for a dip in the pool.
With all the health tips you might encounter, we’ll help you weed out some of the bad ones. Here are four summer myths you can ignore:
‘I don’t need sunscreen on a cloudy day.’
Don’t skip the sunscreen when it’s cool and cloudy outside, even if you don’t expect to get burned in these conditions. Just because you don’t see or feel the sun as intensely doesn’t mean its ultraviolet rays can’t reach you. In fact, as much as 50 percent of UV rays can go right through the clouds. Cool, cloudy days often result in more burns because people fail to take precautions.
“It’s much easier to wear sunscreen any time you go outside than to try and guess when ultraviolet ray exposure will be highest,” says Jamie Boehs, administrator at Lakeside Special Care Center. “For the best protection, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and look for a water-resistant option.”
‘People with dark skin don’t need sunscreen.’
Unless you literally live in a cave or under a rock, you need to use sunscreen.
Any sun exposure raises the risk of skin cancer, even for people with dark skin. It is true that people with darker skin have a lower risk of skin cancer than people with lighter skin, but they can still get it. The false belief that dark skin can protect a person from sun damage can lead to delayed diagnosis of skin cancer and higher death rates.
‘Wait one hour after eating before you swim.’
Your mom might ground you if you swim too soon after eating, but that’s about the worst that can happen. The old idea that you need to wait any amount of time doesn’t have any scientific basis. There is no evidence that you will cramp up and have trouble swimming. Feel free to mix water recreation with food anytime. Any stomach cramps you experience can be attributed to the quality of food, not the wait time before swimming.
‘Any drink will do.’
A cold beer or soda at a summer barbecue might feel refreshing, but these are not the best choices when it comes to hydration.
Alcohol and caffeinated drinks can actually make you more dehydrated, so steer clear of these if you are aiming for adequate fluid intake. Fruit juice can cause an upset stomach because of its sugar content, so avoid drinking too much juice. The best way to stay hydrated is a nice, cold glass of water.
It is important to stay safe in the summer heat, and following the wrong advice can put your safety at risk. Wear your sunscreen (always!), swim whenever works for you, and drink lots of water, and you can be sure to have a safe, healthy summer.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.