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UV Report: Protecting Yourself

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    Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 1:28 PM - Being outdoors in the sun is good for you. Just remember to take a few simple precautions to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays throughout the year.

    In the late winter and early spring, fresh white snow can increase the amount of UV radiation you receive by up to 85 percent. Protect yourself on the ski slopes or on the trails by wearing sunscreen on your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes.

    In the summer time, considering doing outdoor activities such as swimming before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Remember, too, that water and sand reflect UV radiation. Try to spend less time in the sun by finding shade. When you are outdoors, wear clothes that cover your skin such as hats, shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that are UV rated. Wear a lot of sunscreen on skin that is not covered.

    Your sunscreen should block both UV-B and UV-A and have a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 or more. Be sure to reapply it every two hours or after swimming or exercising.

    In the spring and fall, UV radiation from the sun can be very strong especially in the spring when ozone depletion is of concern. When outdoors, wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and a hat. Put on sunscreen to protect any exposed skin. Burns and skin damage can occur quickly and stay with you for life.

    When should you start practicing these protective behaviours? Right away when you are in the sun. It is estimated that when the UV Index is above 4, it will take less than 30 minutes of sun exposure to see damage to your skin. By the time you see it, damage has been done. So start practicing as soon as you are in the sun!


        Education about sun safety

        Education is a key strategy in bringing greater awareness of the changes to the ozone layer, of the dangers of over exposure to UV radiation and in promoting sun sensible behaviour.

        kidsswingSchool children spend much time outside when the sun is strong especially during lunch time, recess and sport activities. As part of public health and safety, helping young people protect themselves from the sun now will go a long way to preventing serious health problems later in life.

        It is during our younger years that we receive most of our lifetime's exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Damage in the form of a sunburn stays with us for life and can be dangerous later in life. Parents, teachers, and schools can participate by educating children about sun safety, UV radiation and the ozone layer and by protecting children from over exposure. Here are some simple ideas to follow.

        Limiting time in the sun

        Reducing students exposure can be done by planning outside school activities outside the hours from 11 a.m. to after 4 p.m. If children are outside during this time period, it should be school policy that children wear a hat, sun glasses, apply sunscreen and are wearing protective clothing. Before 11 a.m. check the UV Index and ensure children are taking the appropriate protective measures.

        Ensuring that there is plenty of shade in the schoolyard will help reduce exposure to the sun at lunchtime. Schools can ensure that there is plenty of temporary shade available for playgrounds, sport days and sport tournaments.

        Develop school policies

        School Boards and schools are encouraged to develop policies that ensure that teachers, parents and students:
        •    Are aware of the risks of being over exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun
        •    Have organized outdoor activities outside the peak hours of 11a.m. to 4 p.m.
        •    Are encouraged to wear protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen
        •    Have shade structures on playgrounds and at sport fields

    Information Courtesy of Environment Canada

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