Kindred Celebrates Sun Safety Week 2016

By Maggie Cunningham

It's hot out there, and the hot weather is only just beginning. The week of June 6th is Sun Safety Week, and we want to arm you with all the information you need to know to keep yourself and the ones you care for properly protected.

Perhaps the most common, visible danger of overexposure to the sun is the dreaded sunburn. It's red, it's painful, it can cause peeling, blisters or worse. One of the best ways you can protect yourself from the sun is to stay hydrated and take "shade breaks" as often as possible. Did you know that the sun's rays are strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM? There's a little rule to help you remember when to go inside for a bit: "If your shadow is short, it's time to abort and seek the shade!"

ssw1We often assume that high levels of SPF in sunscreen and UV-absorbent sunglasses are protecting us sufficiently from harmful rays. You might be surprised to know that another common chemical that you may be using in conjunction with sunscreen can actually reduce the SPF. Insect repellants minimize the effects of SPF in sunscreen by up to ⅓. So if you plan on using both, up the SPF!

Sunglasses, like sunscreen can be misleading. A darker lens and a high pricetag don't necessarily mean better protection. The best protection in sunglasses is actually labeled as blocking 99-100% UV rays. The absorption is improved not by adding color to the lens but by adding certain chemicals or coatings to the lens. If the label says 400 nm, that is the same as 100% UV blockage.

Some people are most at risk when they are deceived into thinking their sun exposure is going to be low. On these bright, red-hot days, a lot of people remember to be diligent about sun protection. On cloudy or cold days, many people forget to take necessary precautions. Sun exposure is a constant danger no matter the weather or time of year.  The 10-4 rule still applies on days with a little less obvious sunlight. It's also still possible to get sunburn in some places you may not expect. Besides sand, concrete, water and snow all reflect 85-90% of the sun's UV rays, so it's important to keep some level of SPF protection year-round.

Lastly, but most probably the most important thing to understand about sun safety is that the overexposure that can occur today or tomorrow can increase your risk of developing skin cancer much later. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is diagnosed in over a million new cases every year, and that number is increasing faster than any other form of cancer.

So remember: wear some form of sunscreen with SPF year-round, up the SPF when other chemical sprays like bug spray may be in use; wear hats or apply sunscreen on your neck, ears and head (especially if you are balding); check the label on sunglasses before you buy them; and remember that a little sunburn now can cause a lot of problems later, so stay away from tanning salons and using oils when outside.