By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
Swimming, boating, diving, snorkelling, fishing, jet skiing: Bermuda is surrounded by water and we appreciate its ability to cool and entertain us all summer long.
We do, however, need to respect it and the potential risks we face when in, on or around it. From drowning to the increased effects of the sun, water can pose a number of hazards that can turn a fun day to an awful memory.
To begin, when on the water, be sure to drink lots of water. It is easy to get dehydrated when in the sun all day, so plan for at least 125 mL of water per person for every half hour in the sun.
According to the CDC, most child drownings happen at a residential pool and most adult drownings occur around open water. Drowning can occur in mere minutes, and a small child can drown in just a few centimetres of water. Teaching children from a young age to be careful around water is the first step; tell them that they are never to go in water without asking permission, and sign them up for swimming lessons as young as 6 months of age. And whether in lessons or not, children should always wear a flotation device and should always be supervised when around water. Everyone, children and adults alike, should wear a flotation device during water sports.
Extended exposure to the sun’s rays is inevitable when enjoying a day on the water. Even an overcast day can cause harm to unprotected skin.
Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays which are also harmful and cause the skin to age. Choose a broad spectrum with 30 to 50 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) for best protection.
The US Food and Drug Administration changed labelling guidelines for sunscreen in 2017, and what used to be referred to as waterproof must now be called water-resistant. Neutrogena, Ocean Potion, Coppertone and Banana Boat all have water resistant and sweat resistant formulations.
There are many choices now for sunscreen, so there is no excuse to go without. We sell Eco-friendly brands (reef safe) by Raw Elements and Sol Rx and cruelty free Vegetarian or Vegan products by Alba Botanicals and Kiss My Face. Zinc Oxide is the safest and best way to filter UVA and UVB rays; look for products from Think Baby and Blue Lizard.
Whatever you choose, apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside, and use approximately the amount of one shot glass for complete body coverage. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 80 minutes and always reapply after getting out of the water, even if you use a water-resistant brand.
If possible, avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10:00am and 4:00pm and wear clothes that cover your skin: there are a lot of SPF products for kids and adults alike. Wear a hat and protect your eyes with polarized sunglasses.
Even the most careful sunbather can suffer the odd sunburn. If you have overdone it, cover the area with a cool, damp towel or take a cool shower and leave the skin moist. Use a moisturizer with aloe vera or soy or even hydrocortisone cream to relieve the skin. Since a sunburn can cause dehydration, drink extra water.
Summer is here and Bermuda’s beautiful waters beckon. Armed with a little knowledge, common sense and some water-safe products, your day by the water can go – well, swimmingly.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.