July is Ultraviolet Radiation Safety Month, dedicated to reminding people of the dangers of being out in the sun and how to avoid long-term damage.
The sun emits ultraviolet rays, which are harmful in large amounts. With many people spending leisure time outdoors, it is important for them to know what precautions to take to protect themselves.
Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States. It is estimated by the American Cancer Society that one American dies every hour from skin cancer. Without protection against the harmful effects of the sun, the numbers of people affected with skin cancers will only increase.
Sunscreen is an essential step in protecting yourself. An SPF of 15 is the minimum a person should be using while out in the sun. Not only does ultraviolet light affect the skin, it also affects the eyes. It can cause eye cataracts and eye damage. To protect yourself against this potential risk, wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Both must be worn to be the most effective.
Ultraviolet radiation can affect people even when it’s cloudy. Purchasing sunglasses that can block 100 percent of UV rays is important. They don’t have to be expensive. A $10 pair of sunglasses can provide the same protection as a $100 pair.
The style of the sunglasses is what makes them more expensive, not the protective UV blocking ability. Following these steps will greatly reduce a person’s chances of sun-related illnesses:
— Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
— Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
— Cover up with long sleeves and a hat.
— Check your skin regularly for any changes.
— Wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.
— Avoid tanning salons.
Being out in the sun is a fun summertime activity. But developing harmful conditions from the sun is not. Protecting yourself from skin damage, aged skin and eye damage is essential. Remember sunglasses represent more than a person’s style. They offer great protection. And however much you want a tan, you should wear sunscreen to protect yourself from long-term effects.
Brittany Hunley, a Clark County Health Department intern, studies health education at Eastern Kentucky University.