Thursday, February 1, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, February 1, 2001

Protect yourself from sun, dehydration

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

No matter what activity you choose, there are two cardinal rules you must keep in mind when enjoying the great Hawaii outdoors.

Protect yourself from the sun: The sun emits ultraviolet rays that can damage skin cells, leaving you vulnerable to certain types of skin cancer. Blistering sunburns or excessive sun exposure can also alter or mutate the DNA of skin cells enough to cause cancer.

Because of the continuous depletion of Earth’s protective ozone layer, your risk of developing skin cancer from UV exposure is greater now than it was even a generation ago. It’s important to remember that UV exposure occurs even during overcast days.

To protect yourself, buy sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15, apply it liberally to all exposed areas and re-apply as directed. You might also consider using a hat to shield your head (the scalp is one of the most common areas for melanoma) and UV-protective sunglasses for your eyes.

Hydrate: Hawaii’s hot, humid weather can lead to rapid dehydration during rigorous activity.

When exercising in the sun, make it a point to drink at least one to two cups of water every hour. It’s important to drink before you feel thirsty, as thirst is a signal that dehydration is already occurring. Remember also that it takes 20 to 40 minutes for your body to fully absorb fluids.

Weakness, dizziness and nausea are common symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can develop into potentially fatal heat stroke if the proper precautions aren’t taken. If you are experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, stop what you are doing, move to a shady area and drink plenty of water or a sports drink. If you are with someone who is experiencing heat stroke, pack ice around the person’s neck and armpits and call a doctor immediately.

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