Motorcycle Tips & Techniques

Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics

Skip Repetitive Navigational Links
Safety TipsNew Rider   Tip018   Print article Print

Sunblock Can Kill You
Honest! Trust me!

By: James R. Davis

Maybe you think that might be a bit of an exaggeration? Nope.

Yesterday Elaine and I participated in the third annual Lime Run hosted by the Lone Star Ladies. It turns out that we manned one of the stops on the run which meant that we were in the sun all day long. We used a sunblock on our faces, necks and arms so that we would not get 'over-done'.

We had about a 100 mile ride to get home. 12 miles from home I went blind, at 70 MPH!

One minute all was right with the world, the next instant both my eyes stung and gushed tears so badly that I was forced to shut them both completely - blinking did not help - I could not see a thing!

I slowed down and hit my Push To Talk button: "Elaine, we have to stop - I have something in my eyes!"

Mind you that I was wearing a full-face helmet, glasses, and the shield was down on the helmet. It didn't exactly make any sense to me either - how could something get into my eyes like that?

Elaine happened to be driving her cage rather than her bike yesterday and was in front of me. Fortunately we had put a hand-held CB into her car that very day! She slowed and steered interference for me for about a quarter of a mile.

With one of my eyes totally shut and the other blinking rapidly (and painfully), I managed to be able to see enough to guide the bike one lane to the right on the freeway, then mercifully there was an off ramp right in front of us - we took it.

Off the freeway we pulled right into a vacant lot off the access road and again I was unable to open either eye. I felt for the kickstand and got it in place just as she jumped out of her car and came back to see what was wrong. Not sure if I was level or not, I wanted both hands to stay on the handlebars and asked her to take my glasses off for me.

Tears poured down my face from both eyes - not from the pain, though there was plenty of that, but from whatever was in my eyes. Elaine ran to her car and got a bottle of water and a handful of Kleenex tissues for me. I washed my eyes with the water and then applied the tissues and all was instantly well again!

It turns out that some of the sunblock on my nose had vaporized with the heat in my helmet and my dark glasses wrap around my head and touch my face all around my eyes - keeping the vapor in.

The message is simple: If you use sunblock on your face be sure to wipe it off before putting your helmet on! (Incidentally, you can buy sports-oriented sunblock products that purport not to sting your eyes.)

Sunblock can kill you. Honest.

Copyright © 1992 - 2024 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

A plea for your help