We all know that the sun is the richest source of vitamin D and exposure to the sun exposure is necessary to help the body absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones. However, spending too much time in the sun would do more harm than good. The damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays are the greatest during the late spring and early summer in North America. June 1-7 is observed as National Sun Safety Week every year to raise awareness about the importance of sun safe practices.
Repeated unprotected exposure to UV rays can result in skin damage, wrinkles, immune system suppression, eye damage, and skin cancer. Outdoor activities are at their peak during the summer among all age groups. Children need to be trained to enjoy fun in the sun safely. If you are an outdoor worker, learn about and observe safe sun practices.
As we observe Sun Safety Week, here are some useful tips to protect yourself and your family from UV radiation:
- The sun is the strongest from10am to 4pm; keep this in mind when planning day time activities.
- Make sure that you wear enough protective clothing when you are out in the sun.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your face from direct sunlight and UV blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Indoor tanning is not safe, so avoid it.
- Keep young children out of the sun, especially those below six months.
- Apply sun screen lotions or creams on all exposed areas, not just a few selected areas.
- Using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher is recommended when you spend time out in sun and reapplying it often can be a help, especially after swimming, perspiring, and toweling off. For children, use an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Whenever possible, stay in the shade.
In a recent press release, a survey by the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) found that even though Canadians are aware about the risks of sun exposure, they have many misconceptions about sun safety. For instance, many people felt that it was not necessary to use sunscreen when it was cloudy outside. However, an expert points out that the clouds can actually increase UV radiation by bouncing it back down to Earth. So it’s important to wear sunscreen even on overcast days.
Another misconception was that sunscreen had long-lasting powers and that there was no need to reapply it after swimming or perspiring. The truth is most sunscreens are not waterproof, and even if they are, must be reapplied regularly, especially if you are swimming or sweating.