Every morning, I ask Alexa, “What is the weather today?” and receive a very pleasant response telling me the current temperature, the amount of clouds versus sunshine and the forecast for the entire day. On Fridays, she even wishes me a good weekend. My own personal forecaster.

Lately, the span of degrees can range from 55 to 106, so I can dress accordingly, depending on what time of day I will venture out. The past few weeks have been pretty warm, so my ensemble in the afternoons has consisted of a bathing suit, cover up and pool shoes. I hop into the golf cart with suntan lotion slathered all over and drive the two blocks to the pool, where I immediately take off that cover up and get in the water. My cooling-off goal is coupled with a nice way to exercise and chat with some other Summerset residents and their families. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have access to a pool, but if I didn’t, I would surely stay indoors during the heat’s peak hours.

Temperatures of 90 degrees and higher are not healthy to be in, especially for seniors. The possibilities of heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration increase as the numbers go up. Most of us go from an air-conditioned home to an air-conditioned car and venture out to stores or restaurants that are also cool, but sometimes it’s necessary to be outdoors even on the hottest of hot days.

If you walk for exercise, it’s best to go early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is not so strong. Wear your sunscreen and a hat, along with sunglasses to protect your eyes. Your glasses should have UV protection, which helps shield your eyes from the sun’s dangerous rays. Polarized sunglasses eliminate glare. Having ultraviolet protection is crucial, while polarization is more of a preference. These two features are different, while working in similar ways, but each offers specific benefits.

If your stroll is longer than a few blocks, it makes sense to take a water bottle to avoid dehydration. Although it’s safer and more pleasant to go with a friend, when you don’t, be sure to set a certain route, let someone know your path, when you’re planning to walk and that you’re going solo. If it’s still very warm, take a small towel or neckerchief soaked in cool water to put around your neck. That will immediately bring your body temperature down.

When we were kids, we basked in the sun on the beach or by a pool for hours, trying to get that perfect tan. We now know those face reflectors and pure baby oil were the worst possible things for our skin. Besides avoiding too much sun, the best thing to do is cover up as much as possible and use the highest sun protection factor (SPF) you can find.

When choosing the right product, investigate several things. Sunscreens are only good if they last a long time and will not wash off while swimming. Read the labels to see if there are any ingredients you may be sensitive to, so you avoid a breakout or rash. They make hypoallergenic lotions for sensitive skin and special creams for the face, neck and ears. Never forget to cover your earlobes with good sunscreen, as that’s one of the more common areas at risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide pose fewer risk for allergic reactions, and they also protect against “UVA” and “UVB” rays (which I’ll get to in a moment). As with any new skin care product, it’s a good idea to use a small amount to patch test when trying a new sunscreen. You’ll want to do this at least a day or two ahead of using it all over.

There are two basic types of ultraviolet rays that reach us: UVB and UVA. UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn, and UVA rays penetrate more deeply into our skin, where they play a bigger role in premature skin aging and skin cancer risk. Neither one is healthy, and don’t forget those dastardly wrinkles!

The best way to avoid skin damage is to be out in the sun for a minimal amount of time, getting some wonderful and natural vitamin D. If you’re doing a water activity, use the sunscreen best suited for your skin type, and if you have really sensitive skin, they make long-sleeve swim shirts for added protection. If you’re just outside enjoying the weather, wear that hat, those sunglasses and lightweight, long sleeves. Sit in the shade and sip on that water bottle.

Alexa says the next week or so will be quite toasty!

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