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: Be Bold, Be Protected, Be in the Know: July is UV Safety Month

Be Bold, Be Protected, Be in the Know: July is UV Safety Month

Outreach Intern

Sunlight is an essential part of our lives; however, too much sun can be a bad thing. July 2017 is UV Safety Month - So what better time than now to brush up on our knowledge of UV Safety?

What exactly are Ultraviolet (UV) rays? MedlinePlus explains that UV rays are an invisible form of radiation. The reason we need to be so cautious of UV rays is because they damage and kill skin cells, which causes sunburn and can ultimately lead to wrinkles, skin spots, and skin cancer. Sunburns, along with sun tans, are sun damage, and should be avoided. Check out Amanda Siegert's past post Embrace the Pale: Messages About Sun Damage Need to be More than Skin Deepon MMG's blog, The Healthy(ist), to learn more about skin cancer and the importance of skin care.

It is important that we protect ourselves against UV rays. There are many ways to protect your skin against damaging sunlight. The National Weather Service provides these great tips to stay safe under the sun.

And don't forget to pay attention to your shadow! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) makes it easy to tell how much UV exposure you are getting, simply use The Shadow Rule [WH1] . In the early morning and late afternoon, if your shadow is taller than you, your exposure to UV rays is likely to be lower. Around midday, if your shadow is shorter than you, your UV exposure is likely higher.

The UV Index is an essential tool in gaging your exposure to the sun. The EPA defines the UV Index as the measure of the strength of ultraviolet radiation at ground level. The UV index measures UV radiation on a scale of 0-11+. As the numbers on the index increase, so do the levels of radiation. Here is the UV index scale and level of risk associated provided by the EPA:

  • 0 to 2: Low
    • Wear sunglasses
    • Cover up with clothes and sunscreen if you burn easily
    • Be cautious of bright, reflective surface
  • 3 to 5: Moderate 
    • Stay in the shade when the sun is strongest
    • Cover up, wear sunglasses
    • Generously apply sunscreen
    • Be cautious of bright, reflective surfaces
  • 6 to 7: High
    • Reduce time in the sun
    • Stay in the shade, cover up, wear sunglasses
    • Generously apply sunscreen
    • Be cautious of bright, reflective surfaces
  • 8 to 10: Very High 
    • Minimize exposure to the sun
    • Seek shade, cover up, wear sunglasses
    • Generously apply sunscreen
    • Be cautious of bright, reflective surfaces
  • 11 or more: Extreme 
    • Avoid sun exposure
    • Seek shade, cover up, wear sunglasses
    • Generously apply sunscreen
    • Be cautious of bright, reflective surfaces

To view the UV Index in your area, visit https://www.epa.gov/enviro/uv-index-search.

So this summer, have fun in the sun, but take the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your friends, and your family against damaging UV rays.

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The Healthy(ist) blog is a platform to share, learn about, and debate topics related to public and social health, scientific research, health communications, and behavior change.
We invite and encourage anyone interested in current public health and health communication trends and issues to join MMG's contributing bloggers in adding their voice to the ongoing discussion about how we can advance health, together.

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