Since several people in my family have had skin cancers, you would think that I wouldn’t need to be reminded to put on sunscreen and wear my hat. But like many anxious gardeners, I am sometimes so eager to get outside and play in the dirt, that protecting my skin isn’t my first thought. Thankfully, my husband (who has had several skin cancers removed himself) does the reminding for me.
As a reminder to everyone, here are some sun safety tips from the EPA website:
- Do Not Burn -Sunburns significantly increase one's lifetime risk of developing skin cancer, especially for children.
- Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds - UV radiation from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling.
- Generously Apply Sunscreen - Generously apply about one ounce of sunscreen to cover all exposed skin 15 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and provide broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear Protective Clothing - Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, when possible.
- Seek Shade - Seek shade when possible, and remember that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 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.
- Check the UV Index - The UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent sun overexposure. The UV Index forecast is issued daily by the National Weather Service and EPA.
- Get Vitamin D Safely - Get Vitamin D safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements and foods fortified with Vitamin D. Don't seek the sun.
The EPA also has this neat tool that allows you to check the UV index for any area in the United States. Just plug in a zip code and it will tell you the strength of solar UV radiation on a scale of 1 (very low) to 12 (very high). The tool says that it shows the index for the next day, not the current day.