With November in full swing and December quickly on its heels, we are smack in the middle of summer and there is no better time to stress sun safety in South Africa where going out at certain times for even 10 minutes can burn you quite badly.
Wilderness is a hamlet like beach along the Garden Route in South Africa, complete with rolling hills of fynbos and flowers, as well as a pristine beach. Even during the busy season it doesn’t tend to be as crowded as most of the tourist beaches in Cape Town, which makes it ideal for travelers looking to get away and keep that feeling of “aloneness” and independence. There is a perfect place to stay that keeps that feeling alive while visiting – Wilderness on Sea, which has both self-catering options and options for a fully inclusive stay. Sometimes there is really nothing better than having a full day out hiking and exploring, than to come back home to your hotel to cook your own food inside or outside, free to choose whatever you like.
There is one constant however, with coming here to visit in the summer months, and that is the pairing of activities outdoors with the hot African sun, which is brutal at times. Usually people will try to stay inside from 1pm – 4pm when the sun is at its most punishing, but those who do go out use maximum sunblock and bring along everything they need for being out during those hours. It’s so important to know what to do in the sun so you can come prepared to have a blast without worrying over your health and skin.
When you’re in the ocean swimming or the pool, it can seem like you’re staying nice and cool, protected from the sun – but it’s a great way to get a really bad burn because of how light is refracted from inside the water. Burns can rank on the burn scale between the 4th to 3rd degree from swimming too long on a very hot clear day. You’ll know it’s a bad burn if you have ‘water blisters’ which will burst when you touch them and can lead to infections from being raw and left open. Be sure when you’re in a pool or the ocean that you bring waterproof sunblock and reapply once every hour at minimum because as we all know, not much is truly totally waterproof.
Seek out a beach umbrella or just buy a regular umbrella while you’re out and about, it can be a big help. If you plan to walk a long way on the beach to find the perfect spot, it can keep the worst of the sun off you until you’re ready to find a place to sit, and then you have brought your shade with you when you need to duck out of the heat for a bit. Bring along a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses, and pack along some water in a cooler if you are able, and you’ll be ready to enjoy the beach time. If you cannot get an umbrella or just don’t want to, be sure you stay close enough to a shady spot so you can get out of the sun if you end up staying out too long and notice you’re getting too hot. Remember that by the time you notice you’re getting pink outside, you’ve already burnt, and it will increase in redness and tenderness over time.
Be aware of things like heat injury as well, we’ve talked about skin issues like burns and staying hydrated by drinking lots of water, but watching for situations like heat exhaustion can help prevent disaster. Be sure you drink 600ml/20oz of water every hour you plan to be outside in the sun, and to recall that all the water you’re drinking will eventually require you to use the restroom so don’t be too far from one, or leave too little time to run back exposed in the sun. Things you need to watch out for in regard to heat stroke or heat exhaustion are: excessive thirst, cool or clammy feeling skin, weakness and nausea, muscle aches and dizziness. If you notice this, seek shade instantly and drink a lot of cold water. Alternately electrolyte based drinks like Energade work, and if the symptoms are not gone within an hour – contact a physician.
By following these tips, and knowing what to watch for – you can come prepared for a hot summer’s day in Wilderness. Use this checklist before you go every time:
- cool drinks/water
- beach umbrella
- wide-brimmed hat
- sunblock/waterproof sunblock