Ryan Chartrand

Evenings are warmer, days are longer and everyone is racing for the beach to celebrate the beginning of summer. With temperatures climbing to the triple digits later this week, take time to make sure that the sun’s rays aren’t harming your skin or body.

Getting the perfect tan is a summer tradition. It feels good, it looks good and it’s not always easy to do.

“I get tan lines when I lay out, but that way at least I know I’m getting a tan,” psychology senior Caitlin Madden said. When Madden feels she needs some color, she heads to the lounge chairs around the Cal Poly pool for some extra sun exposure.

However, the Cal Poly Health Center warns against tanning in general, whether obtained at a tanning salon or the old-fashioned way.

They recommend a few ways to make sure nature lovers stay safe during summer weather. Avoiding midday sun isn’t always possible, but between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. you are at the highest risk of sunburn or heat stroke.

Wearing sunscreen is a given, but remember to put it on 20 minutes before you are outside so it has a chance to absorb, even on cloudy days. Any zinc-based sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is ideal, and it should be re-applied every two hours, especially if you are swimming.

Eye damage is also a risk of direct sun, and the Health Center recommends sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Although they have become popular, indoor tanning beds utilize UVA rays, long wave ultraviolet rays that penetrate skin more deeply than UVB rays. Because of the high concentration of UVA rays, tanning beds can cause more damage to your skin than direct sun exposure.

There are other options, however, for those who desire the glow of summer without permanently harming their skin. Mystic tanning and airbrush tanning are both methods of indoor fake tanning that look realistic and are harmless.

“(Safe tanning is) about not overdoing it. A little bit is good, because the rays release endorphins and are sources of Vitamin D,” said Studio Soleil employee Shelley Stout, who recommends airbrush tanning as the least intrusive option.

On a hot day, watch out for symptoms like dizziness, dry skin and heavier breathing. These are all signs of dehydration and mean you need to replace fluids in your body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Sports drinks are ideal because they replace electrolytes that your body has lost.

If you experience headaches, fever or fatigue, they may be early symptoms of heat stroke and you should immediately get out of the sun and hydrate. Both dehydration and heat stroke can be life threatening, so make sure you wear protection and pay attention to any unusual signs.

If you want to be really thorough about it, you can check out the daily UV index online at http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html to find out how strong the sun’s rays will be in your area.

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