Have fun in the sun, but be sure to protect yourself from UV rays
This article was written by Baillie McCane, BSN, RN, Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator, Trauma/Surgical Services at UK HealthCare.
Have fun in the sun! July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month. The excitement of being outdoors can cause people to forget about the damaging effects of too much UV exposure.
What are ultraviolet rays?
UV rays are an invisible form of radiation produced by the sun, tanning beds and other man-made sources. UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer in the United States. The sun’s rays can be very damaging to the eyes, potentially causing cataracts, macular degeneration and vision loss. These rays tend to be strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
How to stay safe in the sun
People who have fair skin, light-colored hair, freckles and/or light-colored eyes may be more susceptible and prone to sunburns. That is why it is important to understand the sunscreen you are applying. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection. For example, when applying SPF 30 sunscreen properly, you get the equivalent of one minute of UVB rays per 30 minutes spent in the sun. Therefore, one hour in the sun while wearing SPF 30 sunscreen would be equivalent to spending two minutes in the sun completely unprotected.
Key steps in protecting yourself include:
- Staying in the shade.
- Never looking directly at the sun.
- Wearing protective clothing such as hats and long sleeves.
- Applying broad spectrum sunscreen.
- Wearing sunglasses labeled UV400 or 100% UV protection.
- Avoiding tanning beds.
- Knowing that clouds don’t block UV light.
For more information visit the websites of the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.