UV Safety Month is on the way. Here's why people need to protect their eyes and skin from the side effects of UV rays, even when the month is over.
Photo by Josh Rakower on Unsplash
July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month. During this month, medical professionals and health advocates across the country reach out to Americans about the dangers of UV rays and their effects on your body. The month is also educational, helping teach people about ways they can keep themselves safe from the sun.
Whether you spend time outside walking your dog or are planning a beach trip this summer, you can benefit from learning the best ways to cover up and ensure your skin and eyes are adequately shielded—while staying stylish and comfortable.
What to Know About the Danger of UV Rays for UV Safety Month
UV rays come from ultraviolet radiation—a type of radiation the sun produces. (UV rays can also come from artificial sources like tanning beds.) There are multiple types of UV rays, but all kinds of UV radiation are strong enough to ionize a molecule. When ionizing radiation penetrates various parts of your body, it can damage the DNA of the cells it reaches. If the DNA of the cells is damaged, it can ultimately cause them to become cancerous.
Luckily, while UV rays are intense, they are not THAT strong, so they only ionize cells on the skin. UV rays can't affect your body below the surface, and only exposed body parts are in danger of UV effects.
UV Safety Month: Protecting Our Skin From UV Rays
Whether doing an outdoor workout or just getting the mail, your skin is most exposed to the sun. It's also the part of you that is vulnerable to UV rays. To adequately protect your skin during UV Safety Month and all year long, use a sunblock of SPF 15 or higher and ensure it indicates it's for UVA and UVB protection. Apply this sunscreen in the morning, and reapply mid-day if you're going about your day as usual. If you become wet or particularly sweaty, make sure to reapply as soon as you towel off.
In addition to using an SPF sunscreen, consider wearing a wide brim hat. (You can choose one that is stylish!) A wide brim hat casts a shadow on your neck, face, and top of the shoulders and chest when the sun is out. These hats are highly effective at keeping the sun off the top part of your body.
Finally, wear sleeves and pants as often as possible for maximum protection. If you are going to the pool or beach, consider wearing a long-sleeved rashguard to swim in. Also, wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you move around in the sun. Then, you can switch to shorter-length clothing whenever you find a place to camp out in the shade—like under an umbrella.
Make sure you take these precautionary steps for your kids, too! During UV Safety Month, talk them through the steps you're taking and help them create a good habit to do every day, even when they become adults.
UV Safety Month: Protecting Our Eyes From UV Rays
You also want to protect your eyes from UV rays during UV Safety Month (and every other sunny month)! That's because the sun can damage your eyes in many ways, causing cataracts, eye growths, snow blindness, and eye cancers. This permanent damage can take years to appear, even if you haven't experienced sun damage to your eyes in a long time.
So, to effectively protect your eyes, buy some stylish sunglasses that have a minimum UV rating of UV400 protection or that offer 100% UV protection. They should also indicate that they block UVA and UVB rays. In addition to wearing sunglasses, put on a wide brim hat that ensures you never look directly at the sun.
The sun keeps Earth alive, creating beautiful weather to enjoy in the summer. And you can enjoy it safely, as long as you learn to protect yourself from its radiation. UV Safety Month is an excellent opportunity to do just that! Then, you can take the tips you've learned and share them with your friends for fun and healthy days together outside all summer long.