Of all the dangers most people think of, the bright light of the sun is hardly high on the list. Nevertheless, the sun can in fact be quite deadly in many emergency circumstances which makes it necessary to have the skills and gear to protect yourself. Let’s see how you can be protected from the powerful rays of the sun.
How the sun can harm you
We tend to think of sunlight as helpful, warming us, helping crops to grow, giving us light, and many other benefits. While those benefits are definitely present, the dangers sunlight bring are also quite varied:
- UV Damage. The ultraviolet rays of the sun do terrific damage to your body over time, the most common type of which is sunburn. Of course most people can just endure a sunburn if needed, but the damage from long-term exposure can escalate into skin cancer and other debilitating conditions. Furthermore, UV rays that reflect off of concrete, sand, snow, or other surfaces can bounce into your eyes and cause damage to them as well if they’re not properly protected.
- Temperature increases. This may be a blessing during the winter months, but when summer rolls around the heightened temperature in unshaded areas can dehydrate you faster and potentially cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Increased visibility. Remember, during an emergency being able to see is an advantage for you and for looters and other unsavory types. This is particularly true when you’re bugging out and wandering around, since daylight may highlight your position with glinting metal and the like.
How to stay protected
Protection from sun damage is an odd game of finding the right balance. For example, dark thick-fibered clothing is best for preventing UV rays from hitting your skin but also warms you up faster potentially bringing on heat stroke. You’ll need to consider what is most important depending on your resources and plans for that day. If you plan on walking all day in the sun, you may find it more important to wear thin light-colored clothing in order to minimize heat, while working in a survival garden or sitting in an unshaded lookout position might necessitate dealing with the heat despite the dark clothing.
Sunscreen is a great tool, but in a survival situation it has problems of its own. For one thing, there are few if any natural sources of sunscreen available to most people meaning that you’ll be relying on finite sources of chemical lotions instead. For another, sunscreen smells and is very distinctive compared to natural body odor or other common scents after a disaster. Although people may not kill you for a bottle of lotion, it may give the impression that you’re richer than everyone else who lacks sunscreen, making you a greater target.
One key piece of clothing that can protect you from the sun without heating you is a nice, wide-brimmed hat. It needn’t be made of straw (though if you take the time to learn how to make one of those for yourself it could be a valuable trade good), but it ought to be fairly durable since you’ll be wearing it pretty much constantly when you’re outside. The old-timey farmer wore one for its practicality when he was out working the fields, so you should take advantage of some great old technology to protect yourself. Not only does the wide brim protect your head and face from above, when tilted it can also be used to block rays reflected from ground-based sources as well. Add in some dark sunglasses to protect your eyes, and you’ll have gone a long way towards protecting your vulnerable face from the harsh rays of the sun.
Aside from clothing and lotions, you should also try to stay in the shade as much as possible in order to minimize the damage from UV exposure or the chance of heatstroke. If shade isn’t easy to find nearby, umbrellas can be used as handheld protection.
In general, protecting yourself from the damage the sun can cause is a matter of shielding yourself, either with clothing or shade or lotions. Protect yourself properly and you’ll preserve your skin and eyes during a disaster.
Any other tips for protecting yourself from the sun? Let us know in the comments below!
This article first appeared at Prepared For That: How to Protect Yourself From the Sun