Nothing ruins a good day on the water like a bad sunburn. Whether you prefer whitewater or the tranquility of a placid lake, rowers and rafters are consistently outside and under the sun’s beating rays. Reflection from the water can make sunburns more intense, and the lack of shade and tree cover can make for a dangerous situation. If you don’t prepare correctly, disaster can strike. Below, we’ve detailed a few essential tips for staying safe while out on the water.
Use sunscreen, but do it mindfully. Every Coloradan knows the importance of sunscreen. This is your best defense against the sun’s damaging, harmful rays. However, not all sunscreens are created equal—an essential detail to note for rowers and rafters. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of chemical sunscreen, which contains oxybenzone and octinoxate. Effectiveness aside, however, these sunscreens can cause damage to the environment, which is especially threatening if you spend any time in the water. Finding an eco-friendly sunscreen, such as one made with Zinc Oxide, is your best defense—and the environment’s best defense—against danger.
Invest in UV-rated layers. UV protective clothing is an excellent way to keep dry and protected from the sun. Much of this type of clothing is very lightweight, moisture-wicking, and it actually keeps you cooler. Pairing a UV-rated hoodie with a hat or helmet visor is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the sun.
Take advantage of shade whenever you see it. If you’re rowing in a lake, do your best to stick close to the shore to take advantage of potential shade. If you’re on a whitewater trip and can feel your sun beginning to sting, pull over and take a few minutes to cool down. Never underestimate the power of just a few minutes in a cool, sun-free space.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration, when paired with heat, can cause heatstroke. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is the best way to stay safe and cool. If you’re going on a multi-day trip, start drinking more water several days prior to the start. Pack multiple bottles of water, even if you’re just heading out for a quick afternoon on the lake. Whenever possible, bring a water filtration system as a back-up.