It’s Summer Sun Safety Month! There’s no better time to think about staying safe while you and your family are outdoors in the sun. Too much time in the sun presents multiple health hazards, so it’s important to be smart about where you’re spending time this summer and for how long. When you’re armed with knowledge, you can take every step to make sure you and your family members stay safe.
What makes the sun so dangerous?
The sun emits ultra-violet radiation (UV rays), a form of electromagnetic radiation. High-energy UV rays can damage the DNA in your body’s cells, which can result in cancer. UV rays don’t have enough energy to penetrate deeply into your body, which is why they mostly affect your skin.
The amount of UV ray exposure a person gets will depend on various factors. They include the strength of the rays, the length of time the skin is exposed to them, and whether the skin is protected. It’s also important to note that UV rays tend to be strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and that they’re stronger during the spring and summer months.
How can I protect myself from UV rays?
It’s up to you to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of UV rays. Luckily, this isn’t difficult. Follow these tips to ward off UV rays:
- Stay in the shade. Try to stay out of direct sunlight whenever you can, especially between the hours of 10 and 4.
- Cover your skin. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect as much skin as you can.
- Use sunscreen. Sunscreen is your first line of defense when you know you’ll be exposed to UV rays, perhaps at the beach. Always choose a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply regularly (every two hours at minimum).
- Wear sunglasses. Your eyes can also be harmed by UV rays, so wear UV-blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
How can I examine myself and my family members?
Regular self-exams and examinations of your family members are a good policy to keep. Sit down in a well-lit area of your home. Spend time going over the surface of your skin, and take note of any moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks. Note anything that changes in size, color, or shape, as well as any rough or scaly patches. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you find anything that concerns you.
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