Sunburns and Sunblock

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As geocachers we spend a lot of our time outdoors in the sun. This means we are more susceptible than most to sunburns. Hats, sunblock, sun shirts: should be tools in the avid geocacher’s toolbox.

Sunburns, as the name implies, can be quite dangerous. Your skin is the biggest organ that you have and the sun can cause first, second or even third degree burns. You can get blisters if the skin is burned and studies have linked sun exposure to skin cancer.

But the sun is also good for you! It’s a source of vitamin D, which is important for a host of functions in your body. I once read somewhere that because people are spending more and more time indoors most Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. So clearly we should be spending MORE time outdoors, but how to do so safely.

I burn very easily thanks to my northern European heritage, which means I find myself headed to the sunblock isle at the local pharmacy more often than not. Sunblock is rated according to SPF and I never really knew what that meant. I just knew the higher the number the better. SPF, perhaps too simply, means “Sun Protection Factor”.

To understand what those ratings mean, you have to do some basic math. The first number you’ll need is the amount of time it takes for you to burn with NO protection. For someone like me, that’s as short as 10 minutes. To calculate the amount of time I could safely be in the sun, I would take those 10 minutes and multiply it by the SPF. So for an SPF of 30, it would be 10 x 30 = 300 min. That is a theoretical number assuming no loss due to sweating or being in the water. You should reapply the sunblock in accordance to the directions on the packaging.

As mentioned before, there is other protective equipment that no geocacher should be without, here are a few of our favorites:
Sunhat
Sunglasses
Sun shirt
Sunblock SPF 30

Do you have any tips for your fellow geocachers when it comes to staying safe while in the sun to avoid sunburns? If so, let us know on our Facebook wall or by leaving a comment below.

Oh, as a side note. Conduct a Google Image Search for funny sunburns :-) I certainly got a kick out of the designs and the sheer Darwin award winning people out there. Enjoy!

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