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Brad Laabs column: Time on the water takes a toll on your body

I have the good fortune of being on the water for many hours a week. The effects of the sun and wind can creep up on you and take a toll on your body if you aren’t paying attention.

Sunburn is an obvious risk. It is hard to tell exactly when you will burn, so take exposed skin in small doses. If you wait until you or somebody else notices you’re getting red, you are already too late. The sneaky sunburns occur during the cloudy days. Getting burned can happen then. too, so staying covered and using a high SPF sunscreen or block can help prevent the pain, suffering, and lack of sleep that can happen after too much exposure.

Use hats with bills or brims, and lighter colors and light fabrics for your clothing to help you stay comfortable in the heat. There are some very good cover-ups available for the neck and face now that fisherman have been using for a few years. The same material is also available for gloves to protect exposed hands.

One of the sneaky things about the sun when you are on the water, is the amount of reflection you get, and how magnifying that can be to the amount of exposure you are receiving. Another deception from being on the water is how much less hot you feel when there is a breeze. The wind sweeping across even 70 degree water feels cooling when it is in the 80s or even 90s.

It is important in the sun and heat to make sure you drink plenty of water. It is easier to get dehydrated in this weather than you may think, and heat stroke is real. Drink even when you don’t feel thirsty, and drink more than you think you need.

Drink water and Gatorade. Your beer may quench your thirst, and enough of them may help you not notice getting too much sun, but they dehydrate you more due to the alcohol. It is always smart to drink alcohol in moderation when enjoying the outdoors. Your friends and family will probably enjoy their time more also!

The wind also contributes to drying your body out as well as the sun and heat, so on windy days when you are not feeling the heat as much … drink more water.

Use lotions to keep skin moist after sun exposure. Hands take a beating getting wet, drying out, and getting wet again when fishing. Lotion them even if you don’t get around to putting lotion on your other exposed skin.

One safety tip I am aware I am bad at following is the use of sunglasses for eye protection from the sun, glare, and reflection. I have a hard time reading my graph with sunglasses, and I know that is a bad excuse. I have tried many types, and still don’t feel satisfied with the results.

My wife and kids have expressed concerns many times, and given subtle hints, like giving sunglasses as gifts (many times!) I am getting better about wearing them, but still need improvement. I will recommend everyone to be better than I am at protecting your eyes.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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