UV Safety Awareness Month

July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Awareness Month

The golden season is here as summer has arrived. The beaches are crowded, the pools are open, outdoor activities are in full swing, and the sun is shining bright. Everyone loves the warm summer rays on their body. Although the sun is the best source of Vitamin D, it is important to remember to protect the skin and eyes from the damaging rays that come along with the brilliant sunshine.

What exactly is UV Radiation?

UV light is a form of electromagnetic radiation which is emitted from the sun. There are three types of rays emitted from the sun: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. However, UV-A and UV-B can cause the most damage if the right precautions are not taken.

UV-A has long wavelengths that can penetrate to the middle layer of the skin causing wrinkling or leathering. UV-B has shorter wavelengths that reach the outer layer of skin which is notorious for sunburns. UV-C is unable to pass through the Earth’s stratosphere which happens to be one ray not to worry about. UV radiation is at its highest when and where the sun’s rays are the strongest. It is also important to note that UV rays from tanning beds pose the same threat if not more since they offer a higher dose than sunlight.

How to minimize the risk of UV Ray Exposure?

  • Stay in the Shade – Seeking shade between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm will offer the most protection from the sun’s intensity. However, even on a cloudy day or in the winter the sun’s rays can still damage the skin.
  • Cover Up – Keeping exposed skin covered is the best way to shield the harmful effects of the UV ray exposure. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants offer the most protection as well as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for eye protection.
  • Use Sunscreen – The most important and recommended source of protection is sunscreen. The FDA’s (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) new regulations recommend that sunscreen have an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 to protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays. Sunscreen also needs to be used correctly by reapplying it to the exposed areas while in the sun especially when in the water even if it is waterproof.

Unprotected sun exposure can cause vision problems, premature aging of the skin, cancer, and even suppress the immune system. By learning the risks associated with too much sun exposure and taking the proper precautionary measures, everyone can safely enjoy Mother’s Nature’s brightest gift.

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