How to Protect Yourself from Sun and Heat in 2017
Credit: sumroeng chinnapan/Shutterstock

In 2017, Live Science is bringing our readers a monthly series on personal health goals, with tips and tricks for reaching those goals with advice we've gathered from the countless health experts we've interviewed. Each month, we'll focus on a different goal, and the goal for May is "Protect Yourself from Sun and Heat." Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other readers who are working toward these goals.

Jump to: January — Lose Weight | February — Eat HealthyMarch — Start Exercising | April — Cope with Allergies

Whether you live in a spot that's currently a winter wonderland, or a city with constantly sunny skies, one thing is clear: When the sun is shining, you want to get outside. 

But before heading out to enjoy the sunshine and heat, it's important to take certain precautions to protect yourself.

To stay safe in the sun and heat this spring, summer and beyond, Live Science pulled together the best advice and most relevant stories to help you enjoy all your time outdoors safely.

The risks of getting too much sun are as clear as day. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays not only damage skin cells and cause sunburns, but they also are a proven human carcinogen, meaning they cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. Indeed, the vast majority of cancer cases come from exposure to UV rays, the Skin Cancer Foundation says. Here's a look at how the sun does its damage, and why sunburns are a problem.

When it comes to sun safety, sunscreen is one of your most important lines of defense. But the labeling on sunscreen bottles has changed in recent years, so it's important to make sure your sunscreen knowledge is up-to-date before slathering your skin with lotion. For example, grabbing the first bottle you find in your cabinet may not provide the best protection, as sunscreens do expire. And the language on the labels does matter, so make sure you know what to look for to ensure you stay safe in the sun.

More info:

Although sunscreen is essential for blocking the sun's harmful rays, it's not the only way to boost your protection. Your clothes and sunglasses can also help keep you safe from the sun. And simple steps like avoiding the sun during the middle of the day are beneficial as well. Here's a look at other ways to protect yourself from the sun.

When it comes to the sun, it can be difficult to balance the good and the bad. But there are health benefits associated with the sun's rays — indeed, completely avoiding the sun at all costs can be harmful. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, and it's difficult to get enough of this vitamin through food sources alone. Vitamin D is produced when UV rays hit the skin, causing a chemical reaction. Here's more on how sunlight may be good for your health.

Of course, the sun isn't the only health hazard that presents itself on hot days outdoors. Rising temperatures put people at risk of heat-related illnesses, which include heat exhaustion and deadly heat stroke. Here's what to know about how high temperatures can cause harm.

Staying cool and hydrated is essential for protecting yourself against the dangers of heat. Here are Live Science's best tips to beat the summer heat and enjoy your time outside when the weather is hot.

Originally published on Live Science.