Summer Solstice and Being Sunwise

By Kathy Sykes

I love summer, especially the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and during our summers, my brother, sister and I spent the days at Vilas Park. Located on Lake Wingra, Vilas Park had a zoo, acres of green fields and baseball fields as well as a beach. Our days were spent in the sun, swimming, building sand castles, playing ball or just hanging out with friends. We would only leave our park because we had to be home in time for dinner.

My red-headed brother Sven, whom many said resembled Danny Partridge, had freckles, fair skin and burned easily. My sister Julie and I were brunettes and tanned with ease. We often spent as much time applying suntan lotion early in the day as we did Solarcaine before bedtime. On more than one occasion Sven got badly sunburned. Once burned, he was required to stay out of the sun (yeah, right) and because mom knew that was an impossible request, she applied a precautionary white layer of zinc oxide to protect his nose, face, neck and ears. We should have heeded mother’s plea to stay in the shade during the peak sunlight hours from 10:00am to 2pm. But we often did otherwise.

The good news is that it’s never too late to be sunwise. While you are probably aware of preventative steps to avoid the harmful effects of UV radiation on the skin, you may not be aware of its harmful effects on our eyes—leading to cataracts and macular degeneration. For more prevention tips

Summer is also the time to take care for preventing exposure to extreme heat. Did you know that more people die each year from extreme temperatures than from all other extreme weather events including hurricanes, tornadoes and floods combined? Fortunately we all can prevent extreme heat exposure. Air conditioning is one of the best defenses against excessive heat. If you lack air-conditioning in your home, there likely places in your community that have air conditioning. These “cooling centers” may include libraries, shopping malls, senior and centers. Ask your health care provider if the medications you take could increase your susceptibility to heat-related illness. Visit at-risk individuals at least twice a day such as those who live alone or are confined to a bed. For more tips on reducing your exposure to extreme heat

About the author: Kathy Sykes began working for the U.S. EPA in 1998. Since 2002, she has served as the Senior Advisor for the Aging Initiative.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.