Setting Up for Summer

Kate Rogers, Reporter

As the summer seasons approaches, temperatures across Arizona begin their dreaded climb upwards. Already, the average temperature in Chandler is reaching 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Although living with the summer sun is part of our daily life, how often do we stop and think about what it’s actually doing to us? The ultraviolet index, or UVI, is an international measurement of the strength of the ultraviolet radiation produced from the sun at a particular place and time. The higher the UVI, the greater chance for sun damage to your eyes and skin. The index’s range is from 0 to 11. Zero being the least dangerous, eleven being the most. According to World Weather Online, the average UVI in the Arizona summer is over eight. An eight means that there’s a high risk of sun damage after only 15 minutes in the sun. Because Arizona’s UV index is so high, it’s important that we take proper precautions to protect ourselves from sun damage. The United States Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) website states that with a UVI over 8, extra protection is needed. Damage from the sun is one of the leading causes for skin cancer, so protecting your skin before it’s damaged is the key to staying safe.

Another unknown danger of high temperatures and UVI numbers is heatstroke. Heatstroke is caused by your body overheating, typically because of high temperatures, physical exertion, and dehydration. Heatstroke is so dangerous because it starts as heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is when your body overheats and can’t cool itself down, with symptoms like heavy sweating, fatigue, and muscle cramps. This is risky because it’s far more common than heatstroke and much less noticeable. When it’s untreated, heat exhaustion can swiftly become heatstroke. According to the Arizona Department of Health and Safety, heatstroke is the number one weather-related cause of death in Arizona, and over 3,000 people visit emergency rooms because of heat-related illness every year. Learning the signs of heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses is the best way to keep yourself safe in the summer.

Both of these issues are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the danger of our Arizona sun and heat. The best way to keep yourself safe is to seek shade and wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, and generously apply a minimum of SPF-15, broad-spectrum sunscreen on any exposed skin at least every two hours. On top of protecting your skin from the sun, you should also make sure you’re protecting the rest of your body as well. Drink lots of water, especially when participating in outside activities, watch for any symptoms of heat-caused illness, and stay indoors as much as possible on the hotter days. As the temperatures rise higher each summer, adapting to our ever extreme climate is essential to surviving the season.