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- Sun Safety is Just as Important During Winter Months, Whether Spent in Sunny South or the Great White North -

If you are playing out in the snow or heading south to escape the cold, it’s important to be sun safe – even during the winter months.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reminds area residents to take precautions against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada, so sun safety is worth considering all year-round.

“People may think applying sunscreen and being sun safe only applies in summer, but that’s not true,” says Karen Taylor, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “UV rays are always present, so it’s important to be sun smart and protect the skin you’re in whatever the time of year.”

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, reflection off the snow can nearly double the strength of UV rays, meaning that exposed skin can burn more easily on a sunny winter day than on a sunny summer day. If travelling south, people should be aware that the sun is more intense closer to the equator, and that means stronger, more damaging UV rays.

The Health Unit offers the following sun safety tips, whether spending winter in the Great White North or heading south:

Sun Safety in the Snow

• Cover up.

• Wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection.

• Apply a broad-spectrum sun screen with Sun Protection Factor 30+ to exposed areas.

• Use lip balm with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 30.

Sun Safety if Travelling South

• If preparing for a vacation, skip the tanning beds. The notion of a ‘base tan’ is far from healthy, and using a tanning bed will only damage skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.

• Pack and use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 30. The sunscreen should also say ‘broad-spectrum’ on the label to screen out most of the UV rays.

• Wear sunglasses that provide protection against UV rays.

• Limit sun exposure by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or using an umbrella. Avoid spending long periods of time in the sun, especially from 11 am to 4 pm.

• Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made from breathable fabric. Stay hydrated by drinking water.

• Be aware that some medications, cosmetics and lotions increase skin sensitivity to UV rays.

For media inquiries, contact:

Karen Taylor, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2240.

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