Sun Safety

Common Sun Myths
  • A tan is healthy. Not true. A suntan is not a sign of health - it shows that your skin has been damaged. Sun damage is not reversible and usually happens before you can see or feel it.
  • A tan protects you from sun damage. Not true. Overexposure to the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and causes premature wrinkling.
  • People with dark skin are already protected. Not true. Everyone, regardless of skin type, needs protection from the sun.
  • Staying in the shade prevents burning. Not true. Even if it's cloudy, surfaces such as water, sand, concrete, and snow reflect the sun's rays on to your skin. Clouds filter about 80% of the ultraviolet rays, but UV can penetrate thin clouds, fog and haze.
  • You will not sunburn while swimming. Not true. The sun's rays penetrate under water. Radiation penetrates deeper into the skin when it is wet. Wear a t-shirt and hat while in the water. Use a water resistant sunscreen and re-apply it frequently and liberally.
  • Glass protects you from ultraviolet rays. Not true. UVA rays can penetrate glass and produce some tanning, both immediate and delayed. This can cause premature aging and skin cancer.
Ultraviolet Radiation
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a natural part of the sun's energy that reaches the earth's surface. The sun's ultraviolet rays have 3 different wavelengths. UVC contains the shortest wavelengths and does not reach the earth's surface. UVB rays are medium wavelengths that cause your skin to burn and may cause cancer. UVA rays are the largest wavelengths and cause your skin to age and wrinkle, and damages your skin's support structure.

Ultraviolet radiation can damage your eyes, leading to cataracts, your skin, in the form of sunburn and skin cancer, and your immune system, decreasing your body's ability to fight disease. Because the ozone layer is thinning, when you spend time outdoors, you are exposed to increased daily dosages of UV radiation.

Sun Protection

  • Limit sun exposure, especially when the sun's rays are the most intense between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plan outdoor activities for early morning or late afternoon.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat, made of closely woven material, that covers your ears and neck. Also wear sunglasses and a loose fitting long sleeved shirt and pants.
  • Sit under trees, awnings and umbrellas for shade.
  • If you must be in direct sunlight, use a sunscreen to prevent burns. Sunscreen should be SPF (skin protection factor) 15 or higher, PABA free, fragrance free, and water resistant. Apply sunscreen 30 to 60 minutes before going out in the sun, and before you apply any other creams, such as moisturizer.
  • If you have an allergic reaction to sunscreen, such as redness, itching, blotchiness or a rash, stop using the product and call you doctor.
  • Avoid tanning parlors, home tanning lamps and beds. These machines produce the same wave lengths of light as the sun and cause the same damage.
Sunscreens should not be used to increase the time you are out in the sun. Sunscreens provide protection from sunburn when you can not avoid being in he sun. Sunscreens generally protect against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. Some products claim to be broad spectrum sunscreens to protect against the burning rays of UVB and UVA. There is no standard measurement of protection against the aging effects of UVA.

Protecting Children
  • Babies burn more easily. Children with deeply pigmented (dark) skin require just as much protection as children with fair skin.
  • Babies have more sensitive skin because the outermost layer of skin is thinner. Just 1 blistering sunburn doubles a child's lifetime risk of skin cancer.
  • A baby can't tell you she's too hot or the sun is too bright. Your baby may be crying and you won't know whether she's tired, hungry or hot. Babies can't physically move themselves out of the sunlight - they need your attention and help!
  • Keep babies under 1 year old out of direct sunlight. Keep babies in the shade in a covered stroller or play pen. Dress them in long pants, long sleeved shirts and wide brimmed hats. Closely woven materials are best. If a fabric is sheer enough that you can see through it then the sun's rays will get through.
  • Do not use sunscreen on a baby under 1 year old!
  • Book your child's outdoor sports lessons or practices early in the morning or late afternoon.
  • Ensure that shade from trees, awnings or umbrellas is provided outside your home for your children to play in, including sand boxes, swimming and wading pools.
  • Check that your local playground has a shaded area or provides overhead shade structures.
  • Follow rules for sunscreen application.
  • Young children should never be left alone in a hot car!
Eye Protection
Eyes do not get as much direct UV exposure as the skin because they are shaded by the eye sockets. Reflected sunlight, from water, sand, concrete and snow, increases the UV exposure for the eyes. When outdoors, sun glasses are a must and wearing a hat is recommended.

Protecting Your Pets
Don't forget your pets! Heat stroke is shown by excessive panting and salivation, vomiting, an anxious or staring expression, a fast pulse rate and high body temperature. If your pet has any of these symptoms, act quickly! Immerse the animal in cool water or pour cool water over it and as soon as the pet cools off, take it to the veterinarian for treatment.

Never leave your pet in a hot car - it's much kinder to leave your pet at home with plenty of fresh cool water and shade.