We’re out there to have fun, right? Injury and illness spoil the fun – read below to find out how to protect yourself and those you love.
Short-term impact: – painful sunburn; long-term danger: – permanent skin damage and possible cancer. Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is the culprit for sun-related health problems. UV is a type of light not located in the visible spectrum of light waves and clouds don’t block it. You get the most intense dose between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., the time when you’re most likely to be out boating.
Protect yourself with sunscreen and sun protective clothing. The degree of protection is expressed as a sun protective factor (SPF) and the Federal Trade Commission carefully monitors advertising claims. For example, if you would normally burn after 10 minutes of unprotected exposure, an SPF 15 product should extend your safe time to 150 minutes.
Not all sunscreens are created equal. They have different ingredients and none of them will protect you against all the sun’s rays. Apply often, even the water-resistant ones, especially after swimming and vigorous exercise.
Sun protective clothing is another option for foiling the sun. These types of fabrics have a tighter weave or knit and are usually darker in color. NRS MicroLite and HydroSilk garments are fine examples, with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) ratings of 45 and 50+, respectively. For example, with MicroLite fabrics, only 1/45th of the sun’s rays will penetrate the material. There’s a slight reduction in UPF when a sun-protective fabric gets wet.
Special note for young children - keep them out of the sun as much as possible, get them a wide-brim hat and use child-friendly sunscreen on all exposed skin. Youth HydroSkin tops are great for active youngster; you don’t have to keep chasing them down to reapply sunscreen lotions.
Sunglasses protect your precious eyes from the sun's rays. Buy quality glasses that meet the American National Standard Institute's ANSI Z80.3 - 2001 standard. This guarantees the glasses protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation and ensure you'll see colors correctly (for example, the colors of traffic signals or your buddy's boat). Our Smith Optics sunglasses meet this standard and use carbonic lens material, the most impact resistant lens material in the industry. They also block 100% of UV A, B and C rays, regardless of the lens tint. The color of the lenses doesn't affect protection and larger lenses or wrap-around glasses help block out the light coming around the edges.
Water – the Good & the Bad
Our bodies consist of 55-60% water. Loss of even 10% of this from dehydration can pose a serious health risk. Experts recommend that you drink two quarts of water a day, for normal activity, and more than double that when you’re exercising heavily.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water, and make sure to hydrate frequently. Even though the experts disagree on whether sports drinks really help, you can’t beat water for staying hydrated.
Many waterways are polluted these days. If you can’t carry all the drinking water you need, bring a water filter. These will take out the parasites, like giardia and bacteria, such as E-coli. The illnesses caused by these beasties can be quite serious; don’t take the chance.
Plants and Animals
Learn to recognize poison ivy and poison oak, if it grows in your area. The irritant in the plant is contained in the oils of the plant’s leaves and berries. If you do get into a patch, wash skin quickly and change contaminated clothes. Remember, if Fido gets it on his fur and you pet him, the oils can transfer to your skin.
Many of our waterways flow through areas with poisonous snakes. Watch where you put your hands and feet when moving around on shore. It’s bad karma to kill them, they were there first.
If anyone in your party has severe allergy to the stings of insects such as bees and wasps, be sure to have a sting kit along and know how to use it. They’re a prescription item but worth adding to the first aid kit. Many more people in the US die from insect stings than from snakebites.
Fools, Drunks and Small Children
The saying is that “Someone” watches over these folks, but you can help. Many accidents and injuries happen in camp and on shore. Carry a good medical kit and learn to use it. The Red Cross and other organizations teach first aid and CPR classes. Bring all the protective gear necessary for the boating you do and use it! For example, just having the PFD along won’t save you; you’ve got to wear it.
Watch out for each other and Boat Safe. See you on the water!