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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:00 am

Simple Sun-Smart Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself

The first step is becoming aware of your cumulative, daily sun or ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure. Pay close attention to both direct and indirect sun-exposure. Sun exposure awareness is a year-round necessity.
While cloudy days and leafy trees may appear to diminish your exposure, in reality, their ability to filter UVR varies greatly and in effect, they do not prevent harmful UV rays from reaching you. Likewise, the need to be extra vigilant while engaging in water and snow activities is essential. Total UVR exposure in these environments may actually be amplified because of the reflective nature of water and snow.

Simple Sun-Smart Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself
Outdoor winter activities call for sun-smart steps
(Photo credit: Kathleen Kvilhaug)

The next step calls for the use of a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. Adequate sunscreen application is critical for effectiveness.
Reapply sunscreen according to product recommendations if you will be engaging in activities requiring prolonged exposure to the sun. And of course, keep in mind that frequent reapplication is required if you will be spending time the water or engaging in activity resulting in sweating.

Simple Sun-Smart Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself
Use sunscreen in addition to sun-protective measures
(Photo credit: Kathleen Kvilhaug)

Changes in the FDA Modernization Act of 1997, have led to more complete guidelines for sunscreen labeling that went into effect in 2011. These guidelines include the call for additional sun-protective measures to be taken by all users of sunscreen products. It is advisable for you to incorporate the following measures into your daily routine to limit your ultraviolet radiation exposure risks.
FDA recommended additional sun-protective measures include:
• limiting time in the sun
• seeking shade during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses
• special sun-protective clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor)
 • laundry additives to boost the UPF of regular clothing
 • children under 6 months: Ask a doctor
By properly applying adequate amounts of an appropriate sunscreen and following the recommended additional sun-protective measures, you can effectively block the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun and prevent or limit the damage they can exert on your body.
Related topics: How to select the best sunscreen protection.