Stay Cool, Look Cool and be Cool – A Guide to Look at Trees in a Different Light

Spending summertime outside is a great way to reduce stress, be active and get a dose of vitamin D. Finding some shade can be a great way to help you enjoy the great outdoors, and do so safely during the hot months.
Finding a tree with a shady spot underneath is a great way to cool off and relax while enjoying some time outside. Large shade trees such as bur oaks, pin oaks, sycamores, tuliptrees, London planetree, and birches provide excellent shade even on the hottest days.
Although trees may love that much sun, over exposure for us can lead to adverse health effects. Sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are just a few examples.
In the short term, even mild reddening of the skin from sun exposure is a sign of damage. Sunburn can blister the skin and cause it to peel. Longer term problems can also arise. Too much sun speeds up the aging process, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. The most serious effect is increased risks of developing skin cancer.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet light damages the fibers in your skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, your skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. Your skin also bruises and tears more easily, in addition to taking longer to heal. So, while sun damage to your skin may not be apparent when you’re young, it’ll show later in life.”
Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats. Symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse. Heat exhaustion is one of three heat-related illnesses, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being most serious.
Fortunately, heat related conditions are preventable. By simply applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking it easy during the hottest parts of the day, one can stay safe and happy while enjoying the outdoors.
Many tree species that cast shade can also provide spring flowers, and bright fall colors. However, it is important to remember to choose a species that will thrive. Planting trees that are native to your area have a much better chance of reaching their full potential and help create a productive ecosystem.
According to Urban Forestry Coordinator, Emma Hanigan, “A well-chosen shade tree can also serve an important role in creating privacy and blocking wind and noise. For this purpose, look for varieties with dense foliage and appropriate spacing to get both shade and screening”.

*Ultraviolet (UV) radiation: What it is and its effect on your skin. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2023, from

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