Summer has finally arrived in Vancouver! Is there anything better than a gorgeous sunny day? Not many thing s feel better than the warm sun on your skin, and when the sun is out, more people spend time doing outdoor activities with family and friends. However, it is important to be aware that sun exposure has both positive and negative effects. The team at Healthy UBC wants your summertime to be fun, relaxing, energizing, safe; and healthy, so with this in mind we’re asking you to take a few minutes to learn the basics of keeping sun safe –in particular to learn how to choose and use what we call the ‘summer saviour’: Sunscreen.
Sun Safety Tips
Before going out to enjoy the good weather, make sure you are aware of the risks associated with prolonged exposure to the sun, and the measures you can take to protect yourself and your family. Here are five ‘must do’s’.
- Cover up: Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat made from breathable material. When you buy sunglasses, make sure they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Limit your time in the sun: Keep out of the sun and heat between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. A good rule of thumb is, when your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is very strong. Look for places with lots of shade, such a park with big trees, partial roofs, awnings, umbrellas or gazebo tents. Always take a sun umbrella to the beach.
- Use the UV Index forecast: Tune into local radio and TV stations or check online for the UV index forecast in your area. When the UV index is 3 or higher, wear protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Keep Hydrated: Drink plenty of cool liquids (especially water) before you feel thirsty. If sunny days are hot and humid, stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat illness. Dehydration (not having enough fluids in your body) is dangerous, and thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as they tend to dehydrate you, not hydrate.
- Use sunscreen: Wear sunscreen on when the UV index is 3 or higher.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen
According to Dr. Henry W. Lim, MD, chair of the department of dermatology at the Henry Ford Medical Center in Detroit: “While choosing the best sunscreen is important, perhaps even more crucial is using it correctly – something a lot of us don’t do”. Before you relax on the lawn chair or take the kids to the beach, here are nine sunscreen facts you need to know.
- Choose a high SPF: Protect your health by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. The sunscreen should also say “broad-spectrum” on the label, to screen out most of the UVA and UVB rays.
- Look for “water resistant”: Look for claims on the label that the product stays on better in water (water resistant, very water resistant).
- Read application instructions: For best results, be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.
- Use lots of sunscreen: Use the recommended amount of sunscreen.
- Apply it early: Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside; reapply 20 minutes after going outside and at least every two hours after that. Use a generous amount. Cover exposed areas generously, including ears, nose, the tops of feet and backs of knees.
- Reapply often: Reapply sunscreen often to get the best possible protection, especially if you are swimming or sweating heavily.
- Protect yourself: Sunscreen and insect repellents can be used safely together. Apply the sunscreen first, then the insect repellent.
- Sunscreens and babies: Do not put sunscreen on babies younger than six months of age. Keep them out of the sun and heat, as their skin and bodies are much more sensitive than an adult’s. Be sure to keep babies and toddler well-hydrated on hotter days.
- Test for an allergic reaction: Before using any product on you or your child, check for an allergic reaction, especially if you have sensitive skin. Apply the sun screen to a small patch of skin on the inner forearm for several days in a row. If the skin turns red or otherwise reacts, change products.
Your healthy summer starts here! Attend Understanding your Travel Benefits with UBC Benefits Analyst Stephanie Mah on June 26, 2014, 12-1pm and ensure that your well-earned break is as stress free as possible. This session will also include a Q & A aspect so feel free to come with questions. Click here for information.