July is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to spread the word about sun, fun and UV safety to your family and to your community. For myself, as a kid, summer meant being the first ones on the beach and the last ones to leave. Back in the day, we hardly used any kind of protection from the sun, and expected to be going to bed that night with sunburns, but it was always worth it, for a few precious hours of perfect freedom in the ocean. Now, with the rise of skin cancer rates rising in young adults, I look back on those days and think, “If I only knew then, what I know now!” I sometimes look out the window on a cloudless blue day, and imagine packing a picnic lunch to spend a day at the beach , to recapture those carefree days, relaxing on the sand and soaking up some rays. Fortunately, the “responsible” adult in me, also causes me to take a step back and think: “safety first.”
The sun emits 3 types of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC rays.
UVA rays make up the majority of our sun exposure and are responsible for causing premature skin aging and wrinkling (bad for us, great for the anti-aging cosmetics industry!) and also contribute to skin cancer.
UVB rays are the cause of many skin cancers. They also cause sunburns, cataracts and damage our immune system.
Last, but certainly not least, UVC rays are the most dangerous, but fortunately, these rays are blocked by the ozone layer and do not reach earth.
Not all sun exposure is dangerous, however. In fact, some sun is actually necessary. The sun is our primary source of Vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones. Here are a few ways to protect yourself and your keiki from the sun’s rays:
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply every 2 hours when working or playing outdoors.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection. Look for sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.
- Avoid sun exposure during the hours when the sun’s rays are the strongest- between 10a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand. Water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Do not burn. Sunburns significantly increase one’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer, especially for children.
- Seek shade.
- Cover up by wearing a hat and clothes that are tightly woven, loose fitting and full-length.
Have a safe and fun summer!