Safe Soaking in the Summertime

Be sun-smart with a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen

Safe Soaking in the Summertime

A leisurely soak at Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a great way to enjoy a summer day. To make sure the experience stays stress-free and relaxing, make some seasonal adjustments for the extra sweat and sunshine: stay hydrated and protect yourself from sunburn.

Up with H20

Drink plenty of water when visiting Iron Mountain Hot Springs on hot daysYou’re surrounded by water when you soak in Iron Mountain Hot Springs’ 16 mineral pools and its freshwater pool, but make sure you have plenty of water inside, too. Remember, you’re 60 percent water – about 11 gallons for the average adult – and you need to replenish at least half-gallon a day, more in hot and humid weather. Start with drinking plenty of water before you arrive. If you’re planning an early-morning soak, drink extra the night before; if you’re going for an evening dip, drink plenty all day. Bring a plastic bottle to keep sipping while you soak. You can replenish your water supply at the water fountain refill station in the bathhouse. If you’re thirsty, you’re already a pint low, so don’t wait for that signal.

Water is best for hydration, although sports drinks with electrolytes can help if they’re not too sugary. Caffeine will make you lose water. Don’t mix much alcohol with hot spring soaking – the heat and sweat lower your tolerance and can lead to problems quickly. We typically get about 30 percent of our water from foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Orange slices or bananas are good for rehydrating after your soak.

Down with UV Rays

Your chance of getting sunburned at higher elevations, even with cooler temperatures, is greater than getting sunburned at the beach. That’s because the sun’s ultraviolet rays are more intense – about 25 percent more at 7,000 feet than at sea level. Also, the water reflects a high percentage of those rays back at you. Rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Even on cloudy days, 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate.

To protect your skin, bring your own shade, with a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Also, consider wearing sun protective clothing like a rash guard while soaking. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 Sun Protection Factor (SPF) to avoid sunburn today, premature skin aging, and the risk of skin cancer. Before entering pools, rinse off at the Rejuvenation Station and reapply lotions and creams afterwards for sunbathing.

Don’t let sweat and sunburn spoil your summertime soak. A few common-sense precautions can make the experience even more healthy and enjoyable.

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Gene Stowe

Gene Stowe

Gene Stowe was a reporter for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer for 13 years and head of the writing program at Trinity School at Greenlawn, a four-time U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in South Bend, Ind., for 10 years before he became a full-time freelance writer in 2008. His first book, Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie’s Will, was published in 2006. He lives in Monroe, N.C.
Gene Stowe

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