7 Ways to be UV Safe

Senior woman using a suntan lotion on the beach

Summertime arrives and everyone is singing the Beatles classic “Good Day Sunshine.” Though the sun brings us many gifts, like vitamin D and possibly lowering blood pressure, its ultraviolet (UV) rays can be dangerous, causing burns and cancer. UV radiation is produced by the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds.

In honor of UV Awareness Month and (more importantly) to help you enjoy the sun’s rays and stay safe, here are 7 ways to protect yourself.

  1. Stay inside. The best way to avoid harmful UV rays is not to be exposed to them at all. With luck, it’ll be air-conditioned.
  2. Throw shade. If you have to go outside, consider bringing your own shade. Use an umbrella to provide protection and relief. Or, if you don’t have an umbrella, try to stick to the shady areas.
  3. Cover up! The CDC recommends w Stay away from loose or open-weave fabrics and for better protection. A long-sleeved denim shirt provides an SPF of about 1,700; your favorite white t-shirt will only give an SPF of about 7. Also, remember that dry clothing protects better than wet clothing. There are also many clothing brands which list an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number on the label.
  4. Wrap up in sunglasses. Everybody looks cooler in sunglasses, but to actually protect yourself, you need wraparound glasses that have UV protection. Dark lenses do not necessarily mean UV protection – check the label when purchasing.
  5. Go wide with a hat. Your baseball team may make your favorite hat, but to protect yourself from UV rays, you need a wide-brimmed hat. The brim should cover or shade the ears, head, and neck. Remember: Straw hats with a loose weave or other openings do not provide adequate protection – no matter how wide the brim.
  6. Put your best foot forward. Don’t forget to look down when thinking about UV protection. The summertime is full of flip flops and cute sandals. Unfortunately, that can have painful outcomes with toes and the top of the foot burned. Wear shoes that cover your entire foot whenever possible.
  7. Lather on the sunscreen. Of course, you still want to get out and enjoy the beach or sightseeing or just being outside. When you do, make sure to use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply to any exposed skin and read the directions to know when you will need to apply again. Most people forget to re-apply, but doing so is critical to getting the best protection.

Summer is a terrific time to get out and about. Just don’t let UV radiation ruin your enjoyment. Protect your current and future skin. And, please, don’t even think about the tanning bed!