The first day of summer is June 21st and we are already enjoying the warm, bright days that come with the season. Protecting ourselves from damaging ultraviolet rays is even more important now, the sun is brighter, we're more active in outdoor activities, and summer styles expose more skin to the elements. The sun is the primary source ultraviolet rays, and too much exposure can be dangerous. So how do we enjoy the season while protecting ourselves? It is important to to avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight too long, especially between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when UV light is strongest. Remember, if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are at their height... protect yourself. Fortunately, there are some some simple steps that offer protection from ultraviolet rays.
Stay in the Shade
Protect your skin with clothing
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat. Faces, particularly noses and ears, are especially susceptible to melanoma.
- Do you enjoy sitting outside on the patio? Use an umbrella!
- Shady trees with dense foliage are our natural protection against the sun's damaging rays.
- Wear clothing to cover as much skin as possible. Shorts and tank tops are favorite summer styles so this is a hard one.
- Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors.
- Tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven, sheer or gauzy clothing.
- Synthetic fibers such as polyester, lycra, nylon, and acrylic are more protective than cottons.
- Shiny or satin semi-synthetic fabrics like rayon or tercel reflect more UV than linen.
Wear Sunglasses that Block Ultraviolet Rays
- Sunscreens list their level of sun protective factor by SPF. An SPF of 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.
- Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Read the label, follow application directions and reapply a minimum of every two hours.
Children Need Extra Attention
- Sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The label on the sunglasses should say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” -- which means they block at least 99% of ultraviolet rays. Glasses labelled “cosmetic” only block approximately 70% of the rays.
- Darkness of the sunglasses is not a factor. UV ray glasses are protected with an invisible chemical in or applied to the lenses.
- Try large-framed or wraparound sunglasses that will protect eyes from light coming in from different directions.
Our bodies make vitamin D -- which is vital to good health -- when our skin is exposed to the sun. The sun brings us essential benefits ... but cover up before you burn!
- If your child burns easily, take extra precautions. Cover up, limit exposure, and apply sunscreen.
- Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. Use hats and protective clothing.