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Don't Forget the Sunscreen
written by Tom Claycomb

Using sunscreen, as well as other measures, can not only make your outing more enjoyable, but it can also save your life.
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As I started typing this article somehow I got the same feeling that I got when I gave instructions to my teenagers when they were heading out the door for the evening. You know, the "go in one ear and out the other ear" effect. So with that said, I doubt that I will change the "sit in the sun and fry group," and the other end of the spectrum is already lathering themselves up with 5 gallons of sunscreen so I think that I will try to reach out to the middle of the road group.

Sunscreen

Good Girl. The author's daughter, Kolby. Being fair-skinned, she wore plenty of sunscreen and caught plenty of fish.

To write this article I relied heavily on Beth Hall with Del-Ray Dermatologicals that makes Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF30+. They recommend using at least an SPF of 15 or higher for protection against UVB (the burning rays), but for protection against UVA (the aging rays) you need a sunscreen with at least 5 percent zinc oxide. 

Facts

  • More than 90 percent of the skin cancer cases are caused by sun exposure.
  • One in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime and 1 of 3 Caucasians will. (But, don't think that if you are of color that you are automatically safe from sun burning and skin cancer.)
  • More than 1.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year.
  • Tanning booths are not a safe alternative.
  • You can get burned on cloudy days.
  • Even sunscreens that advertise waterproof properties should be reapplied every 2 hours.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat that will cover the top of your head, ears, face and neck.
  • The top of your head, feet and ears seem to burn more quickly and severely than your arms. (Here's my theory. Due to moving around your arms get shade once in a while. The top portions of the above mentioned body parts get no relief but are pounded on all day long by the sun.)
  • Most sunscreens have a water-resistant base so it is best to apply sunscreen to a dry body.
  • The Skin Cancer Foundation says that skin is the largest organ on a human so we need to protect it.

Clothing

You will notice while out fishing you really seem to get burned. Think about it a minute. You're out in a boat with no trees for shade. You're under the gun 100 percent of the time. Plus, you're getting the reflection off the water. So here's my recommendation for clothing while out in a boat: wear loose fitting cotton clothing. I like a long sleeve vented shirt and loose cargo type pants. A straw hat will protect your head, ears, partially cover your neck and help shade your eyes. You can wear a cap with a scarf under the back to cover your neck but your ears may not be covered.

Sunglasses

And don't forget sunglasses. Sunglasses will do two things: protect your eyes and keep the edge of your eyes from creasing due to squinting and being burned.

A Smart Move. Wearing a cap that protects not only your face but your neck will help keep you protected from harmful rays.

Out on the water it's imperative to wear sunglasses. It seems to me that invariably I'm always casting into the sun which forces me to look at the sun rays bouncing in at me. Caps help while driving but out on the water you'll need sunglasses, too.

Years ago if you wore eyeglasses the only option if you wanted to wear sunglasses were some dorky clip-on type of rigs. Now, there are numerous styles available. Some stay put by the use of magnets and some by the use of four little clips on the edge of the lenses. They are stylish and nice looking now compared to the flip-up clip-on models of the past.

Shoes

I like to wear river sandals but as mentioned above, the tops of your feet can get burned big time so cover your feet with sunscreen solution. I remember once a guy at work called in with a bad sunburn on top of his feet. I thought that he was a wimp until I saw his feet two days later. They still looked horrible. He'd been rafting in Colorado, which brings up the next point: You guys from down South don't think that you're safe if you come to the mountains. Even though it won't be as hot, you'll still burn your buns. I've heard that since you're at a higher elevation that you don't have as much protection from the clouds. I don't know the whole reason, but you can get burned bad at higher elevations regardless of the reasons.

Moral to the Story

I think that there is plenty of data floating around warning us of the danger of getting fried in the sun. We all know it but we all also want to have a nice tan. I must admit, researching for writing this article has changed my mindset, and I plan on changing my behavior.

When I was young and on up until way too late I'd get fried the first sunny day of the year. You'd think after a few years I would learn what caused the problem but I never seemed to. Finally I decided that it was smart to only get slightly burned and then cover up. Then on the next trip slightly more and progressively get tanned. I think that is better than just getting fried all at once but according to the experts you should do your tanning with a tanning solution, NOT the sun. They say that tanning booths are not a safe alternative either. So if you must get tanned, Blue Lizard would recommend applying a self tanner after taking a shower.

And lastly I'll leave you with this thought. Yes, it is cool to be tan when you're younger but you don't have to be very old to start seeing the bad side effects. My wife has only gotten badly burned once that I can remember in our 27 years of being married. Consequently she looks literally 20 years younger than she actually is. The only downside of that is that everyone thinks that I robbed the cradle and am married a 20-something year old woman!

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