Sun Smarts for Paddlers
Getting your required dose of Vitamin D is one of the perks of paddling in Florida, but it’s also important to remember that too much sun exposure can be harmful to your health. The easiest way to protect yourself is to apply sunscreen, but there are other approaches to sun safety that can also be helpful.
When it comes to sunscreen, be sure to apply it both before and during your paddle. Most people do not use enough sunscreen, and they do not remember to reapply. Most adults should apply about 1 ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) about 15 minutes before sun exposure. Use SPF 30 or higher, and apply again every two hours or after swimming.
Paddlers should also wear clothing that protects common sunburn areas such as the back, scalp, neck and ears. These parts of the body are highly susceptible to sun damage, which can lead to to premature aging and skin cancer. Choose clothing with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating of 50 or more, or natural fibers in dark colors with a tight weave. Hats are a great way to protect your scalp.
Your eyes are also vulnerable to sun damage when you are paddling, because of they way the light reflects off of the water. Wearing sunglasses is very important. Choose a polarized pair to reduce glare and enjoy a clearer view of what’s in the water below you.
The rays from the sun are at their harshest in the middle of the day, so try to avoid or minimize time on the water between 10 AM and 2 PM, if possible. During these hours, 60% of the rays that cause sunburn are produced.
Ocean Tribe Outfitters is a branch of Sanibel Sea School that helps the local paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit oceantribeoutfitters.org or follow us on Facebook to learn more.