Heat and Sun

Take precautions against skin damage or heat-related illness

If you are visiting a country where temperatures and humidity exceed those you are used to at home, you should take extra precautions to guard against skin damage or heat-related illness. Take the following guidelines into consideration when you travel:

  • Wear sunscreen every day to prevent skin damage. Check to make sure it protects against both UVA and UVB light. Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more, and reapply it if you swim or perspire. Remember to use lip protection as well.
  • If you are taking any medications, check to see if they cause photosensitivity. If they do, take extra precautions against sun exposure.
  • Wear light-colored, lightweight, heat-reflecting clothing. Wearing a broad-rimmed hat will protect your face from damaging sun rays.
  • Decrease your alcohol intake and increase your intake of other fluids.
  • Try not to spend too much time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest.
  • Stay in air-conditioned rooms and vehicles when possible.
  • Wear sunglasses that have side shields and block 92-97% of visible sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun increases your risk of cataracts.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Heat exhaustion, also known as hyperthermia, results from elevation of core body temperature. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, rapid pulse and headache. Victims should be taken to a cool spot where they can rest and drink liquids. If untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.

Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, takes place when core body temperature is 105 degrees (40C) or more. This condition is very serious and can be fatal. Symptoms include confusion or irrational behavior, low blood pressure or shock, vomiting, shortness of breath and unconsciousness. Cool victims as quickly as possible. Remove their clothing, wet them down, fan them and get medical help immediately.