I spent the Fourth of July soaking up the sun at Shell Beach. It was a glorious day with warm temperatures, clear skies and bright sun. And despite the fact that it was probably the busiest day of the year at that beach, one can always find a relatively private spot at the water’s edge.
I did not even have to think about setting up camp on the vacant property reserved for piping plovers. There was plenty of beach for everyone. I remember writing about them back in 1980 when the chicks would scamper all around the unprotected beaches while I was fishing. Now they have their private space.
So some 40 years ago when the plovers did not have their sanctuary space, a much younger “yours truly” did not care one bit about the deleterious effects of exposure to the sun. A day at the beach meant — in the beginning — a bit of a sunburn and then peeling and then tan for the rest of the summer. A good healthy feeling. Kind of like going to Florida or Puerto Rico in February and getting a much needed tonic of vitamin D.
But now, for those of us of a certain age, the sun and its UV rays can pose serious threats to our health and well being.
Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli gave me some information that I thought was worth sharing. It’s called “8 Summer Sun Safety Tips for Seniors.” I see some nuggets here that should make our summer months more enjoyable.
If you are going to be outside, drink plenty of fluids. Six to eight glasses should be the goal. The guideline is that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. This can be pretty tricky because the sense of thirst decreases as we age. I have a tall glass of water with me right now. Coffee, tea, soda and beer don’t count. You need water to hydrate, the experts agree.
Wear cotton that’s loose fitting, lightweight and light colored if you are going out in the sun. Also wear a wide brimmed hat and good sunglasses. UV rays can add up and cause cataracts. I believe that’s how I got my cataract.
When it’s hot and humid, use the air conditioner. If you do not have an air conditioner, spend parts of the day in the library or Senior Center. And if you are going to go out, do it in the morning or evenings when the sun has less intensity.
Be careful to check your medications for side effects that might include hypersensitivity to the sun. I remember getting a bad sunburn after I did not pay attention to a warning not to go in the sun while taking tetracycline.
And we should all be careful about wearing sunscreen. Look for one with a 15 or more SPF –sun protection factor — and always reapply after swimming.
If for some reason you get too much sun, and you become warm and red, there are steps you can take to relieve the discomfort. The Center for Disease Control recommends aspirin or Tylenol or ibuprofen. Aloe cream can also soothe the skin after a cool shower. Because sunburn can dehydrate your body, up your fluid intake.
So let’s enjoy the wonderful summer here on the Island and safely take advantage of all that’s here.
Back in the day, a bronzed body was sought after by sun worshippers. Now we’re more knowledgeable about skin cancers so we’re more cautious.
Meanwhile, the Shelter Island Senior Center is hosting a “Wine Tasting Fundraiser” on Friday, August 2 at the Osprey Bar and Lounge on Stearns Point Road. It’s from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wine is provided by Lenz Winery. There will be hors d’oeuvres and live music. Tickets are $50 per person and can be reserved by calling the Senior Center at (631) 749-1059.