July is UV Safety Month!

The importance of UV Safety

Over the years, overexposure to the sun has emerged as one of the leading causes of skin cancer. It is the job of our skin to protect us against harmful Ultraviolet (UV) Rays, which makes it our job to protect our skin.

Ways to Protect your Skin

  • Clothing: One of the simplest ways to protect your skin from the sun is to properly cover up! The sun is still strong and may cause burning during the winter season, so be prepared all year round. Understanding that it is tough to wear heavy clothing (long sleeves, pants, etc.) in the summer, a helpful tip is to remember your hat and sunglasses are effective shields from the suns UV rays.
  • Sunscreen: Sunburns increase the risk of developing skin cancer which makes wearing sunscreen one of the most effective ways to protect exposed skin from the sun. The FDA recommends sing sunscreens that are not only broad spectrum, but that also have a sun protection factor (SPF) value of at least 15 for protection against sun-induced skin problems. Also, be sure to  remember that one application is never enough. Re-apply your sunscreen about every 2 hours to keep your skin protected throughout the day.
  • Shade: If you are spending long periods of time outside, be sure to stay in the shade during peak burning hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the peak hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Clothes, hats, and umbrellas help create protective shade for your skin as well.

Eye Protection

Damage to the skin is not the only concern when dealing with harmful UV rays. The sun can cause cell damage inside the eye as well. According to the CDC, some of the more common sun-related vision problems include cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that can obstruct vision). Similar to skin protection, a wide-brimmed hat can help protect your eyes from the sun’s rays. The most effective mode of protection however is the use of “wraparound style” sunglasses with a 99 UV block or higher. The “wraparound” ensures protection from all angles.

The UV Index

To help you decide how much protection against the sun is necessary, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a UV Index to measure the daily intensity of UV rays on a scale from 1 to 11. A greater number on the scale will require more protection. Click the link to learn more about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) UV index.

Resources for UV Safety

  • Be Safe in the Sun
  • Action Steps for Sun Safety
  • Save Your Skin
  • UV Index in Your Area
  • FOH UV Safety Marketing Materials

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Federal Occupation Health.