Staying Safe in the Sun
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has named July as Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month to emphasize the importance of protecting your skin and eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays.
Here’s how to keep your cool and not get burned this summer:
Protect Your Skin
Our skin protects us every day from heat, sunlight, injury and infection, yet many of us surprisingly don’t protect our skin properly from the harmful effects of UV rays. That “healthy glow” we all crave is not so healthy. Today, skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in the United States. Too much sun also creates premature signs of aging, such as wrinkles and age spots. Who wants that?
As we enjoy the summer months, it’s important to keep our skin’s health in the forefront of our minds. Here are 6 ways to enjoy the sun, while keeping the UV rays at bay:
- Wear the proper clothing. Think hats, long-sleeved shirts, long pants or long skirts. Dark colors offer more protection than light colors. Dry fabric is better than wet, and tightly woven fabrics protect better than loosely woven clothing. Also, be aware that if you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too.
- Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreen should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and say “broad-spectrum” on the label, which means it protects against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. You should reapply sunscreen at least every two hours.
- Embrace the shade. Simply put, stay out of the sun during peak burning hours. That obviously is the best way to avoid the sun’s harmful UV rays. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), say those peak hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use extra caution when near reflective surfaces, such as water, sand and snow. Any surface that reflects the sun can also reflect its damaging rays, even in a shady spot.
- Use extra caution when at higher altitudes. Higher altitudes have less atmosphere to absorb UV radiation, so it’s easier to experience more UV exposure when you’re higher up.
- Don’t use tanning beds. Think a tanning bed is the answer? Think again! According to the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause nearly 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year and the amount of radiation tanning beds produce is similar to the of the sun and sometimes stronger.
Protect Your Eyes
Did you know that UV rays can penetrate your eyes and cause cell damage? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium (non-cancerous growth of the conjunctiva that can obstruct vision) are some of the most common sun-related vision maladies.
Here are 3 ways to keep your peepers protected:
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses. Sunglasses that have a wraparound shape protect eyes from most angles. Choose a pair that not only blocks glare but also blocks 99% or 100% of UVB and UVA rays. And remember, pricey sunglasses don’t guarantee better protection.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat. A wide-brimmed hat protects both the skin on your face and your eyes, keeping them shading from the sun at most angles.
- Choose contact lenses that offer UV protection. According to the American Optometric Association, some contact lenses absorb UV radiation and reduce the amount of radiation that reaches the surface of the eye. These contact lenses can also protect the eye from radiation that comes from above or around the sides of sunglasses. Contact lenses on their own, however, do not offer sufficient UV protection for your eyes.
Having fun in the sun is what summer is all about but not protecting your skin and eyes can sour the joy of sweet summertime. Taking the time to properly prepare for sunny days will keep you looking and feeling good all summer long. At 4M, we care about our Team Members’ and clients’ health and safety, not only when they’re working but when they’re enjoying their time off, too.