The sun has made its welcome return, and Birmingham days are getting to the normal hot temperatures that we associate with May and the summer. Sunnier days mean way more outdoor activities across the greater Magic City metro. While it’s important to get out and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine, it’s even more important that we stay safe while doing so. Yes, the sun is our friend. But too much sun can lead to sunburns, sun poisoning, and skin cancers. So what are the best ways to keep ourselves out of harm’s way while taking in some outdoor time? Here are a few of the most recommended practices. 


Sunscreen is one of our biggest advocates when it comes to protecting from harmful UV (ultraviolet light) rays. Look for lotion or spray with an SPF, or sun protection factor, that is 15 or higher. Cover parts of your body that will be exposed to the sun, and make sure to reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating, or other activities that will make your sun protection come off easier. 


While sunscreen is an incredibly effective tool to help us combat the dangers of sun exposure, it needs to be accompanied by other safety measures to be the most impactful. One of the easiest ways to boost our sun safety is by sticking to the shade as much as we are able to. This helps you take in less UV rays, but you’ll still want to wear sunscreen.


The more of our skin that is covered, the more of our body that is protected from UV rays. However, we do understand that in an Alabama summer it isn’t very practical to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants all the time. There are still ways that we can protect ourselves with summer clothes though. Hats with brims that cover our full head are one way. When it comes to shirts, tightly-knit shirts work best and wearing a dry shirt instead of a wet one after swimming will help reduce the impact of the sun’s rays. Sunglasses are another accessory that is great for not only protecting our eyes from the sun, but also helping the skin around our eyes stay safe. 


While the focus of this article is mostly centered around skin protection, we can’t leave out water when discussing ways to stay protected from the sun. Heat strokes and fainting are not unusual occurrences during these hot summers - it even happened to me as a pre-teen while waiting to leave on a Boy Scout trip in a hot parking lot! Plenty of water keeps our body hydrated and cool, and goes perfectly with shade, clothes, and sunscreen to keep us healthy and happy while outside.

The act of looking for ways to lessen the harm caused by the sun this summer means that you are on the right path when it comes to safety. Practice these measures, and have a wonderful next few months exploring the natural beauty that is the Alabama outdoors! 

Cover image from Terri Cnudde