There is a science to fighting off the burns while tubing along at Schlitterbahn. Even veteran sun happy guests learn the hard way that cool water does not mean you can float without serious sun protection. Here are some tips to keep you cool, but not crispy, this summer.


1. Wrap it up. You know the basics, right? Like check your skins often for signs the sun has damaged you already and get suspicious spots checked by a doctor. Wear clothes because, as anyone with a good tan line can attest to, the best protection is clothing. Hats are great for little kids in particular, who can end up with sunscreen in their eyes when the sweat streams down from their head.

Of course some of our rides at Schlitterbahn don’t lend themselves to hats,  pants, and long spring dresses. So you’ll need a plan B – sunscreen.


2. Bug then Sun. But before we talk about sunscreen, let’s talk about bugs. Bugs happen. Mosquitos and other flying biters love water parks despite our best efforts to swat them away. If you are like me, aka mommy the mosquito magnet, you have to fight back with repellent. Just be sure to apply your bug spray first, then your sunscreen.


Tracey Nefford3. Dudes. Wear it. Sunscreen is a big problem with guys. As in most guys don’t wear it. According to the Environmental Working Group “in 2009, nearly twice as many American men died from melanoma as women. Surveys show that 34 percent of men wear sunscreens, compared to 78 percent of women.”

Dude. It’s radiation. Seriously. Wear your sunscreen.


4. Don’t rely on SPF. That’s right. Turns out that SPF ratings are, well, over-rated. According to Web MD, SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns, but not UVA rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the risk of skin cancer. Add to that the numbers don’t really track with the protection. An SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. Start with an SPF of 30 and reapply often. SPF 100 isn’t going to last more than a couple of hours, just like SPF 15. The Environmental Working Group has a ton of information on what ingredients to avoid, you can read their list here.


Raging River5. Consider the Tube. We see a lot of sunburned chests around here. That’s because when you are tubing, you lay back in that tube and never really feel the impact of the sun. Your rear is in the water, you are being splashed about, it doesn’t feel like 105 anymore. Then the next morning every shirt feels like it’s made of wool. Make sure to reapply sunscreen on your chest and belly area specifically. That nose could probably use another swipe, too.


6. Cream vs. Spray. We were on the spray on band wagon too – until we got our first burn. Not only do you inhale sunscreen (which is not particularly effective or healthy), but you can’t always see the spots you miss. Also it can get into your mouth and eyes, neither of which is any fun. It also tends not to last as long. Of course if you have squirmy kids you may have to opt for spray – just be sure to reapply it more often.

Remember, a bad sunburn is completely preventable. Keep yourself covered in some form of sunblock, and all you should take home from Schlitterbahn is a collection of great memories — and an intact epidermis.