Warmer weather is well on its way and the sun is shining brighter than ever.

But it’s not all smiles when it comes to sunshine. We dove in to the importance of protecting ourselves from the heat and sun.

“A lot of people don’t realize this but heat is the number one related weather killer. So anything that you have that can kill you weather-related, heat is the number one killer,” KX News Meteorologist Amber Wheeler said.

She explained what the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are and the best way to stay cool in heated situations.

“Things to watch out for would be being faint or dizzy, pale clammy skin and of course muscle cramps. A lot of folks get that when they’re outdoors. But then things start getting into that danger zone if you will, into the heatstroke possibility here. When you get that throbbing headache, and the big one here is no sweating. That means that your body has lost all the moisture that it’s using to cool itself down,” said Wheeler.

It doesn’t take long for a person or a pet to get heat exhaustion, even in cooler temperatures.

“SLeaving your pets in your car, even with a relatively cool day, the 60s and 70s can be dangerous. That sun just heats up the inside of that car, and when it heats that up on the inside, it has nowhere to go when the windows are shut. So, it just continues to heat up until you, of course, open up a door to let that heat out,” Wheeler added.

If you or someone you know is experiencing heat exhaustion, it’s best to get indoors to cool down and drink water.

If things get into the danger zone and you begin to experience heat stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately.

And there are other potential threats that the sun can have on our health.

Kylie Buccholz, a nurse practitioner at the Institute of Facial Surgery & Skin, explained what dangers the sun’s rays can have on the skin.

“The sun causes multiple issues for us. So number one is skin cancer. We know that the UVA and UVB affect our skin and can damage our DNA, which then leads to cancer. But also, it causes photodamage or dark spots on the face and on the body and then premature aging,” Buccholz said.

Buccholz says sunscreen acts as a chemical and physical barrier between the sun and our skin. So when should it be applied and what kind should you use?

“The one thing that everybody should know about sunscreen is that it should be reapplied every two hours.
That is how long it takes to break down on our skin. So an SPF 30 blocks about 97% of the sun’s rays, but there’s no sunscreen out there that protects us 100 percent. So as long as you have an SPF 30 or above, you’re pretty well protected,” she added.

Sunburns can come when you least expect it. What most people don’t realize is you can still get burned by the sun even behind the wheel.

“A surprising thing is that we always see more photodamage on the left side of the face. That’s because our car window isn’t UV protected. So, most of our sun damage that we get throughout our life is cumulative.
So, yes, it’s damaging to lay outside in the sun in the summer, but more of that damage comes from having that window on the left side. So that’s why reapplication is super important. Even if you’re just hopping in your car,” Buccholz said.

You don’t always have to be under direct sunlight to receive the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.

“People think that even when it’s cloudy out we don’t need sunscreen. But even with the clouds, about 80 percent of the sun’s rays still penetrate through that. So, it’s important that we wear sunscreen every single day because we’re always being exposed,” Buccholz said.

Next week, we’ll dive back into our Summer Safety series with part three, the importance of boat safety on Monday, May 23 at 6 p.m.