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Sun Safety Tips for Boaters

Sun Safety Tips for Boaters
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7 Sun Safety Tips for Boaters

Boating is an excellent outdoor activity that many people enjoy during the summer. However, being out on the water for an extended period can lead to sunburn and dehydration. As a boater, it is essential to prepare for your trip with proper sun protection and attire to ensure you have an enjoyable and safe experience. Here are some summer sun safety tips to keep in mind before embarking on your boating adventure.

Wear Protective Clothing

long sleeve protective shirt for sun safety

Wearing protective clothing is an effective way to shield yourself from the sun's harmful rays. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs is ideal. When choosing the right attire for your day on the water, there are a few important factors you should consider:

  • UPF Rating: UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a rating system used to indicate how effectively a fabric blocks UV radiation. Look for clothing with a UPF rating of 50+ for maximum protection. This means that only 1/50th of the UV radiation will penetrate the fabric.
  • Breathability: Choose clothing made of lightweight, breathable fabrics such as cotton or moisture-wicking materials like polyester. These fabrics allow air to circulate and sweat to evaporate, keeping you cool and dry in the heat.
  • Sleeve Length: Long-sleeved shirts and pants that cover your arms and legs provide additional protection from the sun's harmful rays. Look for clothing that is loose-fitting and made of lightweight, breathable materials.
  • Water Resistance: Choose clothing that is water-resistant and quick-drying, especially if you plan on being in and out of the water. This will help prevent chafing and discomfort from wet clothing.
  • Color: Light-colored clothing reflects more heat than dark-colored clothing, keeping you cooler in the sun. Consider wearing white or light-colored clothing when out in the sun on a boat.

A wide-brimmed hat can also provide protection for your face, neck, and ears. Look for hats made of lightweight, breathable materials that have a brim that extends at least three inches all the way around. Sunglasses are another essential accessory for prolonged sun exposure as they protect your eyes from glare and harmful UV rays. Choose sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Look for glasses with a wrap-around style that covers the sides of your eyes for maximum protection.

Apply Sunscreen Regularly

young woman putting sunscreen on her arm

Applying sunscreen is a crucial step in sun safety. It is best to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before exposure to the sun and reapply every two hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial while out on the water. Bring plenty of water and other hydrating beverages to drink throughout the day. The amount of water a person needs to drink to stay hydrated during a day out in the sun depends on various factors such as age, weight, gender, level of physical activity, and environmental conditions. However, a general guideline is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, also known as the "8x8 rule."

When spending a day out in the sun, it is recommended to increase your water intake to account for the additional fluid loss from sweating. The American Heart Association suggests that individuals engaged in moderate activity should drink an additional 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water per hour to replenish lost fluids. It's important to listen to your body and drink water whenever you feel thirsty. Symptoms of dehydration can include dizziness, fatigue, headache, dry mouth and throat, and dark urine. If you experience any of these symptoms, take a break from your activities, seek shade, and drink water or a hydrating beverage like sports drinks or coconut water to replenish lost fluids.

In addition to drinking plenty of water and other hydrating beverages, it is essential to avoid alcohol and sugary drinks when spending time in the sun, as they can increase dehydration and cause further fluid loss.

Seek Shade

family fishing day with a t-top for sun protection

While on the water, try to seek shade whenever possible. If your boat has a canopy or bimini top, use it to protect yourself from direct sunlight. If you plan to spend time on shore, look for shaded areas to rest and relax. Common shade products for boats include:

  • Bimini tops are a popular shade solution for boats. These tops provide shade over the cockpit area of the boat and can be easily deployed or stowed away. Bimini tops come in various sizes and materials, including canvas, vinyl, and Sunbrella, a UV-resistant fabric.
  • T-tops are another popular shade solution for boats. These tops are mounted on the center console of the boat and extend outward to provide shade over the cockpit area. T-tops are generally made of aluminum or stainless steel and can be covered with a canvas.
  • Umbrellas are an inexpensive and portable shade solution for boaters. These can be easily attached to the boat's railings or rod holders and provide shade in the desired area. There are many types of marine-grade umbrellas available, including beach umbrellas and fishing umbrellas.
  • Shade sails are an excellent shade solution for boats that do not have a Bimini or T-top. These sails are made of UV-resistant material and are suspended above the cockpit area using ropes or cables. Shade sails come in various sizes and shapes, including triangular, rectangular, and square.

Use Cooling Products

Using cooling products can help you stay comfortable in the heat. Consider bringing a portable misting fan or cooling towel to keep you cool on hot days. Additionally, a personal fan can provide a refreshing breeze and help to evaporate sweat.

Bring First Aid Kit

Among other boating safety essentials, it is important to bring a first aid kit with you on your boating trip in case of any medical emergencies. Your kit should include items like antiseptic wipes, bandages, pain relief medication, and any prescription medication you may need.

Have Communication Devices

a boat radio that can be used to call for help

In the event of an emergency, such as a medical emergency or equipment failure, communication devices are essential for getting help quickly. A cell phone, VHF radio, or satellite phone can be used to call for assistance and relay your location to rescue services.

Communication devices are important in cases of overexposure to the sun or dehydration. These conditions can lead to fatigue, confusion, and disorientation, which can make it difficult to navigate or call for help. Having a communication device onboard can help you get in touch with emergency services or other boats for assistance.

Ready to Hit the Water with these Summer Sun Safety Tips in Mind?

Enjoying a day out on the water can be a fantastic experience. However, it is essential to take precautions to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays. Wearing protective clothing, applying sunscreen, staying hydrated, seeking shade, using cooling products, bringing a first aid kit, and having communication devices are all important summer sun safety tips for boaters. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your boating trip is not only enjoyable but also safe.

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