SUN SAFETY INFORMATION
Work, Rest or Play in a Sun-Safe Way
Without the sun, life simply could not exist. It provides warmth and
light to us and our environment. However, the sun's rays also can be
Over exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation (UV) can damage skin
and eyes. The effects of sun damage include freckling, tanning, sunburning,
wrinkling, cataracts and skin cancer.
Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer in the United States with
more than one million new cases diagnosed each year. It is also one of
the fastest rising cancers. It has reached epidemic proportions, especially
in the Southwest. Arizona, for example, has the highest incidence of skin
cancer in the United States and the second highest rate of skin cancer
in the world behind Queensland, Australia.
Some factors that contribute to your risk of skin cancer are beyond your
Your Family History
People with a family history of skin cancer have a greater risk of developing
Your Physical Characteristics
People with fair skin and light blue or green eyes and those who have
red or blonde hair and freckle easily have a greater risk of developing
People who live, work or play closer to the equator, at higher altitudes,
and in locations with many dry, sunny days have a higher risk of sun
sunburn and skin cancer. Mountains have some of the most intense UV on
Earth. At an altitude of 10,000 feet, UV is 50 percent more intense
than at sea
level. Also, the thinning of the Earth's protective ozone layer increases
everyone's UV exposure.
Even though you may not be able to control your skin type or where you
live, you can control your ability to be safe in the sun. Most skin cancer
is caused by over-exposure to UV. By reducing your sun exposure you can
help prevent skin cancer. You and your family should be aware of the risks
of too much sun exposure and adopt simple sun safety practices to prevent
serious health problems.
Follow These Simple Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Children:
1. Access the Daily UV Index
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National
Weather Service (NWS) have developed the UV index. The UV index indicates
the likely level of exposure to UV rays for a particular city on a given
Several U.S. cities are given a daily UV Index Forecast on a scale of
0 to 11+, where 0 indicates a minimal likely level of exposure to UV rays
and 11+ means a very high level of exposure.
Access the daily UV Index Forecast for your city via the Internet (reports
daily UV Index Forecasts for selected cities) or your local newspaper
(some local newspapers report the daily UV Index Forecast for their particular
city on the weather page).
Take more sun safety precautions on days with higher UV index values.
2. Limit Your Time in the Sun
UV is most intense between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so plan outdoor
activities for before or after peak sun intensity hours.
Limit your time in the sun all year round and in all types of weather. UV can penetrate through clouds.
Snow reflects UV back at you and can cause a severe sunburn.
If you must be outdoors during peak sun hours, use shade or find shaded
Umbrellas, trees, ramadas, and shadows from buildings are good sources
3. Wear Cover Up Clothing
Wear clothing that covers the most skin, such as long-sleeved shirts with
collars, long pants, sun-safe swim suits, socks and shoes.
Choose tightly knit fabrics that have fewer or smaller holes between
Choose darker colors of fabrics because they absorb UV better than lighter
Choose heavier-weight fabrics because they tend to block more UV than
Check out the cover-up clothing options that offer a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) number on the label. It's SPF for clothes.
Wear wide-brimmed hats with at least a 3" brim or a legionnaires
hat with a flap in the back. But remember, any hat is better than no hat at all.
Wear 99-100% UV-blocking sunglasses every day and goggles when skiing or snowboarding.
4. Use Sunscreen Every Day of The Year
Use sunscreen in addition to cover-up clothing, not in place of it.
Choose a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or greater.
The higher the SPF number, the longer the sunscreen's protection will
Choose broad-spectrum sunscreens that block UVA (the 'aging' rays) and
UVB (the 'burning' rays).
Choose water-resistant sunscreens that will
not wash off as easily.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
Use sunscreen with a current date. Sunscreens have a shelf life of 2
- 3 years.
The chemicals in sunscreens either absorb or reflect UV. The absorbing sunscreens shoud be applied
30 minutes before going out in the sun so that the chemicals have time
to be absorbed into your skin. The reflective sunscreens can be applied at any point and still be effective.
Use more sunscreen than you think. Use 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover your entire body. Apply it liberally over all exposed
Wear sunscreen under insect repellant or make-up.
Do not use sunscreens that contain DEET.
Some people may experience increased sensitivity to sunlight because of
certain medications they take. Consult your doctor about your medications
and sun sensitivity.
Children Need Special Protection:
Even though skin cancer most often develops in adulthood, its development
may be related to our sun exposure as children. Scientists theorize that
there are two primary triggers for skin cancer:
- Accumulated lifetime exposure to the sun
- Severe sunburns
The more time you spend in the sun over your lifetime, the greater your
risk of developing non-melanoma (basal and squamous cell) skin cancer.
How does this relate to children? Kids play outdoors. We get 25% of our
sun exposure before age 18. In addition, severe sunburns are insults to
the skin and its cells that can cause permanent damage to the skin's deeper
layers. As few as five severe sunburns before the age of 18 may double
the risk for developing melanoma later in life. Because children spend
so much time outdoors, they need to know how to "play safe in the
sun" by finding shade, wearing cover-up clothing, and using sunscreen.