How to have safe fun in the summer sun

Posted on July 28, 2011 

Beach Chair by Asbestos Bill Creative Commons Attribution licenseWe are now in the midst of a hot and sunny New England summer.  Many people are enjoying this great weather by going to the beach, playing in the park and attending barbecues. This is an excellent way to spend your free time, but your skin could be in danger!

We are all at risk for skin damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays but those especially in danger are people with fair or freckled skin, blond or red hair and blue eyes.  Also, children under the age of 6 and adults over 60 have increased sensitivity to sunlight.  Unprotected exposure can lead to heatstroke, sunburn, cataracts as well as fatal consequences like skin cancer.

Protect yourself and your loved ones!

  • Limit your time in direct sunlight.  You don’t have to stay inside all summer—just limit your exposure. Bring an umbrella to the beach, wear a baseball cap and sunglasses at sporting events, or sit under a tent to eat at cookouts.
  • Always use sunscreen, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Use an SPF (sun-protection factor) of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours outdoors!
  • Be aware of your environment. Reflective surfaces, such as water, white sand and concrete, reflect the sun’s UV rays making them stronger at the beach than at a playground. The sun’s reflection on the water increases UV exposure by 25%.
  • Check the UV index for your area!  Sites like www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvalert.html will tell you the UV strength for the day so you can plan how to limit your exposure.  You can even download a free UV index app from the EPA for your mobile devices.

Keep these tips in mind and continue enjoying your summer. Your skin will thank you later.

Photo attribution