Be Sun Smart

sun smart

The days are longer and lighter, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to play outside! Whether you’re headed to the pool (even if it’s in your own backyard), the mountains or a nearby waterpark, make sure you take the time to protect your skin.

Painful burning, skin cancer, and premature aging are all the result of unprotected moments under the sun. To protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays, consider these tips. Adjust them based on your individual needs, lifestyle, and susceptibilities.

Stay hydrated

You’ve heard the message a thousand times, but there’s good reason – staying hydrated is essential for our overall health. During the summer, it is especially important to stay hydrated before, during and after spending time outdoors. Most individual adults should aim for 64 fluid ounces of water a day. For someone who exercises or works outdoors, this amount should be greater. Most experts agree: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink – by this time you’re already dehydrated. Drink every 15-20 minutes.

Limit sun exposure

Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). You are at greater risk of skin damage during this period. If you must be outside during these hours, hang out in a shady spot, or create your own shade using an umbrella. Take precautions even when in the shade.

Apply sunscreen every day

Consumer Reports recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 that contains chemical active ingredients such as avobenzone rather than “natural” or mineral active ingredients such as zinc oxide. Only sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage can shield your skin from UVA and UVB rays, both of which contribute to skin damage. For CR recommended sunscreens, click here.

Liberally apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, including the delicate skin around eyes, face and neck 30 minutes (the amount of time it takes for it to start working) prior to going outdoors. Keep in mind that most products only last for two hours. Make sure to reapply every 1 to 1 ½ hours if you’re going to be out in the sun longer. Always follow manufacturer recommendations.

Don’t forget to accessorize

A wide-brimmed hat can protect the delicate skin around your face, ears and neck, while sunglass protect your eyes and prevent cataracts. Wear sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection. Make sure to still apply sunscreen even when accessorizing.

Don’t let cloudy days fool you

By now, you know the importance of applying sunscreen on sunny days, but did you know that 80% of all UVA rays can penetrate cloud cover? With their longer wavelengths, UVA rays can pass through clouds and glass, penetrating the dermal layers of your skin and affecting the epidermal layers where wrinkles are formed.

Beat the Heat by the Pool this Summer

beat the heat

Don’t let the hot weather discourage you from enjoying the season. Instead, take advantage of this Arizona heat by going for a refreshing swim, either in your own backyard or by visiting one of the following venues.

After all, swimming provides countless benefits for both you and your children, including improving muscle definition and strength, building bone mass, reducing inflammation, decreasing stress, and burning calories.

Here are some venues to visit to beat the heat this summer.

Water Parks

Arizona is fortunate to be home to several water parks. Locals and visitors alike line up to get into Big Surf Waterpark. In operation since 1969, it is home of the United States’ first wave pool, which has been featured in many popular films including Just One of the Guys (1985) and Storm of the Century (1999). It is located in Tempe just off the 202 Red Mountain and McClintock Drive.

Also on the east side of town, you’ll find Mesa Golfland-Sunsplash, Arizona’s premier family fun destination. It features 30 exciting rides and attractions from thrilling waterslides to award winning miniature golf. On the west side of town is Wet-n-Wild, a massive 25-acre family water park tucked away in far north Phoenix. You can sometimes find discount ticket prices for these parks at Costco or through Groupon.

Public Aquatic Centers

The Valley has its share of community pools scattered throughout its many neighborhoods. The best part? They’re affordable! Swimming lessons, merit badge classes, and lifeguard training (junior and adult) are available at many city pools. Some of also available for private parties and corporate events. Visit any of the following links for additional information, including pool locations, hours of operation and amenities.

City of Apache Junction

Superstition Shadows Aquatic Center

1091 W. Southern Ave.

Apache Junction, AZ 85120

  • $1.50 admission for children (17 and younger)
  • $2.50 admission for adults (18 and over)

City of Chandler

Admission fees for all City of Chandler pools

  • $1.00 for children (2-17 years)
  • $2.25 for adults (18-54 years)
  • $1.25 for seniors (55 years and older)

Each of Chandler’s six public pools also feature weekly $1.00 family swim nights and free swim nights.

City of Gilbert

Admission fees for all City of Gilbert pools

  • $1.00 for children (17 and younger)
  • $3.00 for adults (18 and older)

City of Mesa

Admission fees for all City of Mesa Pools

  • Free for children under 6 months of age
  • $2.00 for children (17 and younger)
  • $4.00 for adults (18 and older)

City of Tempe

Admission fees for City of Tempe Pools vary, please visit their website for exact prices.

City of Phoenix

Admission Fees for all City of Phoenix Pools

  • $1.00 for kids (some city pools are offering free admission for children thanks to the Kool Kids program)
  • $3.00 for adults
  • $1.00 for seniors

Planning a Summer Pool Party

summer pool party

With temperatures rising throughout Arizona, one activity most people can’t live without is slipping into their swimsuits, and taking a dip in the cool blue waters of a swimming pool.

The only thing that beats diving in on a hot day is a summer pool party. There’s nothing like inviting some friends over, eating some amazing food, and lounging poolside. We have some great suggestions for invitations, decorations, food, games and of course, music.

Invites

Looking for a way to really wow your friends and family? Write your summer pool party details on an inflatable float or beach ball using a sharpie. You can choose any color sharpie you’d like. Be sure not to smudge the ink. For detailed instructions, click here.

Menu

No summer pool party would be complete without everyone’s summer favorites: burgers and hot dogs hot off the grill. Sandwiches, sliders, and chicken and pineapple kabobs are all low-maintenance options. Also, a refreshing snack, sliced watermelon. Don’t forget desert; perhaps a mixed berry cobbler or classic strawberry shortcake? Be sure to have lots of bottled water available to help your guests stay hydrated.

Activities

For fun activities that are family friendly, set up a few lawn games, such as Twister, Tic Tac Toe Frisbee and Jumbo Jenga. A quick Pinterest search will yield many other fun games. Additionally, a pool party can never have too many pool floats or pool noodles for guests to float around on, especially if there are children in attendance.

Decorations

If you’re hosting the party by the pool, be sure to set up a shady area or two for guests who prefer to relax in the shade. Add color to your pool by throwing in some balloons. With a little imagination, you can also create mini beach ball garland using paint, nylon string and Styrofoam balls. Get the tutorial here.

Songs for Summer

  • Firework by Katy Perry
  • School’s Out by Alice Cooper
  • Summer in the City by the Lovin’ Spoonful

How To: Cool Your Pool During the Summer

cool

During the summer months, Arizona’s extended run of triple-digit temperatures can heat a swimming pool to uncomfortable temperatures, making it feel like you’re stepping into a bathtub. If your pool has a depth of 6 feet or less, or receives a good amount of sunlight throughout the day, then you’ll likely benefit from adopting one of the following techniques for keeping your water temperature cool, crisp and refreshing.

Water Features

Water features are a fantastic way to add beauty to your pool while keeping the water cool. It’s a known fact that moving water stays cooler than stagnant water. Adding a simple fountain is one idea. You can also consider installing a sheer waterfall, spillway or pool slide to help accelerate the cooling process and keep the water clean.

Pool Coolers

Pool coolers are the perfect answer to uncomfortably warm swimming pools. An affordable, easy to install and energy-efficient solution, pool coolers are powered by an electric fan cooling system. The water circulates through the system, as airflow instantly removes the heat, and pumps the water back into the pool.

Shade Sails

Blocking your pool from the sun is one of the most effective ways to keep the water cool, but as most Arizonians know, shade is hard to come by in the Valley of the Sun. Shade sails are an increasingly popular option that can be placed in a variety of unique angles, giving the pool a very edgy, modern look.

Pergolas

A picture of comfort and style, pergolas can provide ambient shade with just the right amount of filtered light over the pool, provided they are correctly installed. Pergolas can be constructed using a number of high-quality materials including wood, stone, and rock. Aside from providing shade, they also help to add value to your home. Win-win!

Sunburn Prevention

sunburn prevention

Ah, summer! You’ve waited all year to dive into a summer of swimming fun. Before diving in; however, you’ll want to make sure to protect your skin from the sun. A common problem during the summer months – especially in Arizona, which is already breaking records – sunburn can cause skin to become tender, red and scaly (the latter happens as it heals). Sunburn can also cause long-term damage.

Sunscreen Minimizes Risk of Sunburn

Have you ever wondered how sunscreen works? In a nut shell, sunscreen protects your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Sunscreen, also commonly referred to as sunblock, is rated by a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. The higher the number, the stronger the protection. It is now possible to find sunscreen with an SPF of 70 or higher.

There are many protective ingredients in sunscreen, which fits broadly into two groups: organic and inorganic. Organic sunscreen takes advantage of the first law of thermodynamics by absorbing ultraviolet rays before they harm the skin. Inorganic sunscreen, on the other hand, works by reflecting ultraviolet rays away from the skin. “Broad spectrum” provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

The length of time a user can reasonably expect sunscreen to protect varies depending on which outdoor activities the user will be partaking in that day. For the best protection, reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours (yes, even on cloudy days), and after swimming or getting wet. The general recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatology is to use a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher.

Other Ways to Prevent Sunburn

  1. Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., according to the Sun Safety Alliance.
  2. Wear lightweight, protective clothing. Moisture-wicking athletic wear with UV protection is a good choice.
  3. Generously apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. It is now possible to find sunscreen with an SPF of 70 or higher.

Protect Outdoor Furniture from the Sun

In Arizona, there is no escaping the sun. It bears down us relentlessly during summer months causing us to retreat indoors or into our swimming pools for relief. But the sun also can take a toll in other ways around the pool area. Patio furniture often takes the brunt of the sun all day and the effects soon become obvious with color fading, dried out cushions that tear easily, or faded finishes on wood furniture. Here are some suggestions for protecting your outdoor furniture.

Fabric
If you are going to use fabric covered cushions on your outdoor patio furniture, there are few things you can do to help protect them. Perhaps the most obvious is to purchase covers for your furniture or store you cushions away when they are not in use. The type of fabric makes a difference as well. For natural blends try to get cushions covered with cotton or wool blends. Fabric blends with nylon and polyester are usually less likely to fade. There are fabrics that are specifically designed to withstand the sun such as SunBrella and SolarWeave.

Wood
Sun can cause outdoor wood furniture to dry out, crack, and splinter after prolonged exposure. Therefore, wood needs some sort of coating whether it is stain, varnish, or paint to help resist the effects of the sun. If paint is an option, try to use outdoor or latex paint as that will give you maximum protection against the sun. To keep that natural wood look, use an outdoor varnish that is UV light resistant as well as a water repellent, especially if the furniture is place near the pool and prone to being splashed.

Metal and Plastic
For metal and plastic furniture you will want to purchase a UV furniture protector spray. Much like sun block protects your skin, UV furniture plastic keeps harmful UV rays out that cause slow color fading. Keep in mind you will need to apply the product regularly to maximize it’s effect.

Outdoor and Patio furniture can be expensive so it’s important to protect it from the sun to keep it looking great. At the end of the day, keeping your outdoor furniture out of the sun or covered will be the best way to protect it from the damaging effects of the sun but following the tips above will help as well.

What To Know About Sunblock

So you’ve had your new custom pool installed and you are ready to splash away the summer in your new pool. Not so fast. Spending time in the sun is not without it’s repercussions, especially in Arizona. It’s a well know fact that long-term exposure to the sun can significantly damage your skin and lead to more serious health problems. Therefor it is essential that you protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen or sunblock. But how do you know which sunblock to use?

First, its important to understand how sunblock works. Sunblock protects your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Sunblocks are rated by a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number. The higher the number, the stronger the protection.

How long sunblock protects can vary from person to person. One method of determining how effective a sunblock will be is by taking the time it takes for a user to burn and multiplying it by the SPF factor of the sunblock. For example, if it typically takes a user 10 minutes to develop a sunburn without sunscreen, then a SPF of 15 will protect the user for approximately 150 minutes. The general recommendation from the American Association of Dermatology is to use a sunblock with a minimum SPF of 15 , and reapply every two hours.

There are two basic types of sunblocks. Chemical Sunblocks work by absorbing UV radiation energy before it effects the skin. Physical sunblocks work by reflecting harmful UV radiation away from the skin. Some manufacturers combine the two types of sunblock to both absorb and reflect the sun to protect your skin.

Physical sunblocks are typically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. We’ve all probably have seen the image of the lifeguard with the white zinc oxide on their nose. This type of sunblock is very useful for those that have extra sensitive skin and need full protection.

Chemical sunblocks are made up of many different active ingredients. That is because there is no single ingredient that can block the entire UV spectrum. But by combining ingredients that block different regions of the spectrum, sunblock can effectively protect skin from a broad range of UV radiation energy.

Sunblocks come in different forms such as lotion, gels, sprays, and oils. Which application you use is largely personal preference, but some with sensitive skin may develop allergies to certain types of sunblock. It’s recommended to try several different sunblocks to see what works best for you. Note that if you will be spending time in the water, it’s important to use a water-resistant sunblock for best results.