RPMH raises awareness of UV safety

As the official summer season gets underway, much of the nation has been breaking records with 100 degree temperatures. While many continue to plan outdoor activities, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH) is urging locals to protect themselves from the sun’s heat and ultraviolet rays, preventing heat exhaustion and skin damage. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are many precautions Americans can take to protect themselves from UV rays. “We don’t ever want to discourage physical activities, especially outdoors, but there are many precautions that one can take to contribute to their health,” said Donna Boatright, administrator of RPMH. “Sunscreen is one of the simple ways people of all ages can protect their skin from the summer sun.” Boatright explains that applying sunscreen at least 20 minutes before outdoor activity can reduce skin damage and risk of cancer. She adds that sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher is recommended. To further protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, exposed skin should be covered by seeking shade as much as possible during the late mornings and afternoons when UV rays are the highest. People should also wear light-colored cotton clothing. This covers your skin and allows your body to breathe easier. Hats with large brims can also protect your head, ears and neck. Boatright also advises people to wear sunglasses when outdoors. Choose lenses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB type rays. Sunglasses with gray-colored lenses also reduce light intensity and provide a more natural vision. Long exposure to the sun or extensive activities in the heat can easily lead a person to heat exhaustion. Sweating acts as a coolant system for your body. This system brings your body temperature down, but it also results in the loss of large amounts of body fluids, leading to dehydration. Consuming water or sports drinks can help combat exhaustion and keep your body hydrated. “Water is a better means of hydrating your body when outdoors for small increments of time. Sports drinks work best for longer sessions as they contain ingredients that will both hydrate your body and provide the energy needed to continue your activities,” Boatright said. You should stay away from beverages such as soft drinks, coffee and alcohol. These types of drinks can actually cause your body to excrete extra fluids, causing you to dehydrate at a faster rate. Boatright also encourages people to stay out of the sun and heat as much as possible between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays and the temperature can do the most damage. “Skin cancer and other health dangers from the summer sun and heat can be prevented with the right precautions. It’s only a matter of education and taking the necessary steps,” Boatright said. Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital provides healthcare for those in the communities they serve. Founded in 1976, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital offers a wealth of medical services including: 24 hour emergency care, advanced radiology services including CT scanning and MRIs, outpatient lab, physical therapy, surgical services, swing bed services, patient education, home health and assistive services, and more. For additional information, please visit www.rpmh.net.