Be safe in the sun

By Pat Brinkman - OSU Extension

Are you wearing sun screen? It’s time to have sun screen on and take precautions to keep yourself and your love ones sun safe. Although it may be chilly some days it is still time to protect ourselves from ultraviolet light produced by the sun.

Most news casts are giving the UV Index now which is on a scale from 1-10. When the UV index is 3 or above it is time to have your sun screen on along with taking other precautions. Anything above a 3 means we need to take some precautions. Remember that even on cloudy days you can get sunburnt so protect yourself. You can check the UV Index at or download the app.

Most of us get too much sun. One in five people will get skin cancer in their life time so take precautions. Did you know that it is estimated that 90% of the new cases of skin cancer each year are preventable if we would just practice skin safety measures?

Follow these few simple practices to make a difference.

Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen protects the skin from burning as quickly. Select a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30. Remember to apply it 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or sooner if swimming or perspiring on a hot day. Be sure to apply sunscreen on your children. It is best to keep infants and young children out of the sun as much as possible. Don’t apply sun screen to an infant under 6 months of age.

Protect your lips with lip balm that contains sunscreen. Some medications increase sun sensitivity so be careful if you are on medication.

If possible stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the highest. Avoid sunlamps and tanning salons as these are stronger than the sun and do more damage.

Wear a broad brim hat. A three-inch brim is recommended to provide the best protection. Forget the baseball caps! They do not provide protection for the ears and back of the neck. A sun safe hat is dense enough to block UV rays from the sun. Tight dense weaves are best.

Wear sunglasses that filter out the UV radiation. They should provide 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection, look for a label on the sunglasses. Consumer Reports recently found most cheap labeled sunglasses do provide protection. UVA and UVB protection is clear and not determined by the color of the sunglasses.

Consider clothing choices. Long sleeve shirts and pants provide additional protection but can be hot on warm days. Looser styles and woven rather than knits are usually cooler to wear. Light colors provide the least UV protection. A wet white T-shirt is no protection against UV rays. Darker colors provide a higher UV protection but are hot to wear, so find a medium color, which will provide some protection with comfort. You can buy some clothes that provide UV protection. They are easy to wash and wear.

Making some changes can help reduce your risk of skin cancer and damaged skin, which gives the wrinkled leathery look as you age. You can enjoy the warmer, sunny weather and still protect yourself if you follow these precautions.

Pat Brinkman is the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator for Ohio State University Fayette County.

By Pat Brinkman

OSU Extension