Do you feel that?
That’s what we call here in the South a HEAT WAVE, and it does not normally end until fall’s initiation date into the seasons is literally right around the corner. Luckily though, we have ample opportunity to cool off while enjoying the summer season in a local lake, on vacation at the beach or simply at the neighborhood pool. No matter where you take a dip, it is very important that you take the necessary precautions for swimming safety.
Here are a few tips to help enjoy swimming all season long.
Direct sun typically occurs between 10:00am and 4:00pm.
“It doesn’t matter,” shares Katrina Hereford, Recreation Therapist, Aquatics Specialist and owner of Curves and Waves LLC. “UV rays can still penetrate the epidermis in both direct and indirect sun exposure. Try using the shadow rule which states, the shorter your shadow the more direct the sun’s UV rays are. This is an easy way to determine if you are getting sun during your outdoor activities so that you can take the necessary precautions.”
Be sure to opt for an SPF watersuit, use protective clothing like sunglasses and hats when appropriate and apply sunscreen at least thirty minutes before sun exposure and re-apply approximately every two hours thereafter while in the sun.
Generally speaking, when you walk, run or bike outside in the heat, your body responds by sweating, which is a reminder that you need to be sure to hydrate. However, when swimming, it can be difficult to tell the difference in sweat and water. That makes it even more important to pay close attention to staying hydrated. The general recommendation for the average adult is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces per day and possibly more if you exercise and lose excessive fluids. A few symptoms of dehydration are:
- Abnormally dry skin
- Dark yellow urine
- Dizziness, confusion or fainting
- Rapid breathing or heart rate
- Low energy
- Inability to urinate (learn more)
To avoid these symptoms, drink at least 16 ounces of water before swimming, and keep a large water bottle nearby so that you can hydrate every thirty minutes or so.
Swimming outdoors can pose unpredictable risk factors, especially when swimming for prolonged periods or in moving water.
“Despite my 20 plus years experience swimming, I always carry a life jacket with me in water deeper than my mid-thigh or waste,” says Hereford. Life rings and boards with wrist or ankle attachment also serve as excellent floatation devices. Hereford shares, “ I recommend swimming with a buddy or at a facility that staffs a trained lifeguard.”
These steps toward safe swim ensures you can take as many dips as you want all summer long. Want to know more? Read more swimming safety tips here.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHWC, CPT, CMS
Health Advisor | Email Casey