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With Gainesville enjoying an average of 224 sunny days per year, it’s no wonder more and more people are escaping cold and icy winters for their day in the sun.

As we age, the effects of the sun, dehydration and fatigue tend to increase. There are several ways you can protect yourself and continue to enjoy the Florida sunshine.

Wear the right clothing.

Proper clothing is the single most effective form of sun protection. Clothing should be lightweight and made with a breathable fabric to keep you cool and protected. Wide-brimmed hats are great for protecting your face, ears and shoulders from the sun.

Apply sunscreen early and often.

Start your day with a light layer of sunscreen before you go outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. Once outside, remember to reapply sunscreen every hour in areas directly exposed to the sun.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Warm weather causes our bodies to sweat more as we try to maintain a healthy temperature. Hydration keeps this system working. Water is the best form of hydration followed by sports drinks with electrolytes. Strive to drink six-eight glasses of water a day. Increase your water intake on hot days or if you are doing any kind of physical activity.

Wear eye protection.

Protecting yourself from the sun also means protecting your vision. Wear sunglasses to help avoid eye damage. If you wear prescription strength glasses, consider getting a pair of sunglasses to match in order to maintain you vision and get the protection you need.

Check your medications.

Some medications can cause increased sensitivity to the sun. Read the side effects for your medications and check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Do your research.

As you start your day, check the weather forecast to plan. Make sure to look at the “real-feel temperature” and the UV index. The index is based on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being the highest, and helps estimate the risk for sunburn in midday sunlight.

Florida is called the Sunshine State for a great reason! Sunburn, overheating or dehydration can put a real damper on a sunny day. Make sure you are taking the steps you need to fully enjoy the Florida sunshine.