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- Applying Sunscreen, Seeking Shelter in the Shade, Are Just Some of the Ways to Be Sun Safe This Summer -

Sun worshippers need to consider changing their habits this summer in order to protect their own skin.

Being sun safe is vital for reducing the risk of sunburns and skin cancer. According to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, long-term exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, especially from a young age, can lead to deadly skin cancer later in life.

“Skin is the largest organ in your body and it plays a very important role in keeping you healthy,” says Krista Skutovich, a Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit. “However, there are limits to your skin’s ability to provide protection from the sun, and that is why it is very important during the summer months to be sun safe.”

One of the best ways to protect against the sun is to apply sunscreen, ideally at least 20 minutes before going outside, she notes. It is recommended that people use a sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15, although if outdoors for an extended period of time, applying sunscreen with SPF of 30 is advised. Sunscreen should to be reapplied every two hours through the day, as it can be washed off by water or sweat.

“Adults can be good role models when it comes to sun safety, especially by encouraging and demonstrating to children how and when to use sunscreen,” Skutovich says. “This helps children develop a healthy habit for life.”

If people are using sunscreen in combination with an insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first, then the repellent.

To further protect themselves from the sun, area residents should consider wearing proper clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves or long pants to protect themselves from the sun. Sunglasses may also be advisable to wear, especially to block out harmful UV rays.

Skutovich also advises that people check the weather forecast for the UV Index in their area before planning outdoor activities. According to Environment Canada, the higher the UV Index number is, the stronger the sun’s rays are and the greater the need to take sun safety precautions. For example, a UV Index reading of 8-10 is considered ‘very high,’ while a rating of 11 or higher is considered ‘extreme.’ Typically, the sun’s rays are strongest between 11 am and 4 pm, so limiting exposure to the sun during those times is advisable.

Spending time in the shade can help reduce people’s exposure to the sun, she adds. Shade can come from buildings and other structures, trees and planted vegetation, or shade can be portable by using gazebos, tents, beach cabanas and large umbrellas.

For more on sun safety, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Krista Skutovich, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1334.

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