Have Fun in the Sun (But Be Safe!)

By Kindred Healthcare

Taking advantage of the longer days and warmer temperatures of summer and having fun in the sun is great, but staying safe is important, too. Whether you’re planning a picnic at your local park or a vacation at the beach, take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of too much sun.

Ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in less than 15 minutes of exposure. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risks of skin cancer and take precautions.

UV rays can damage our bodies all year round, but preventive steps should be taken especially in the summer when the risks are highest. During Sun Safety Week, take a few minutes to find out what the risks are and how you can have fun outdoors while limiting the risks of skin cancer.

Skin cancer rates rising

Unlike many other types of cancer, the rates for skin cancer are rising. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.” UV rays damage and age skin cells.

This not only means being careful when you head outdoors, but also avoiding the tanning bed, which poses significant skin cancer risks as well.

Sun damage is a risk for all ages

 womanwithhatThe elderly are at a high risk for sun damage since their skin can often be thin, sensitive and more prone to sun burn. Their skin is as sensitive as that of a newborn baby. A high SPF is ideal even on days when prolonged or direct sun exposure isn’t expected. The sun may also be a factor in macular degeneration and other vision problems leading to vision loss for seniors. Other factors such as medications, illness and family history can increase the risk of sun damage.

What you can do

The CDC provides the following tips for skin cancer prevention:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours (11 a.m. – 4 p.m.).
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim.
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection – don’t forget to reapply.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.
  • Assist young and elderly loved ones with the tips above.

Get more information

Find out more about the risks of indoor tanning on the CDC’s Burning Truth site. The Burning Truth initiative encourages you to keep your skin healthy and beautiful by protecting yourself from too much exposure to UV rays from the sun and tanning beds.

The UV index can help you stay informed. It provides a forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. The National Weather Service calculates the UV Index forecast for most ZIP codes across the U.S., and the Environmental Protection Agency publishes this information. The index is accompanied by recommendations for sun protection and is a useful tool for planning sun-safe outdoor activities.

The American Cancer Society also offers information and tips on staying protected from the harmful effects of the sun, not only during the summer, but all year round.