Sun Safety Tips

Most of us enjoy the arrival of the sunshine and warm weather and cannot wait to spend more time outdoors. However, exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to:

Straw hat, sunscreen and sunglasses

  • Skin cancer
  • Skin damage (e.g., premature aging of the skin, wrinkles)
  • Sunburns
  • Eye lesions
  • Cataracts
  • Retinal burns

How to Enjoy the Sun Safely

Exposure to UV rays can harm the skin and eyes. You can protect yourself and your family and still have fun under the sun.

When the UV index is three or higher, protect your skin and eyes as much as possible. In general, the UV Index in Canada can be three or higher from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September, even when it's cloudy.

Before you head outdoors, follow these sun safety tips:

  • Time of day
    Limit time in the sun when the UV index is three or higher, usually between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Shade
    Seek shade or make shade by using an umbrella, a UV protective tent or pop up shade shelter

  • Cover up
    Wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Wear a wide brimmed hat or baseball cap with flaps that cover the head, neck and ears.

  • Sunscreen
    Apply plenty of sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, labelled "broad spectrum" and "water resistant". Reapply when needed, especially after swimming, sweating, or towelling. Use a sunscreen lip balm.

  • Sunglasses
    Wear close fitting / wrap-around sunglasses with UV 400 or 100 per cent UV protection

Avoid getting a tan or sunburn, and exposing yourself to UV rays to meet vitamin D needs.

Test Your Sun Safety Knowledge - True or False?

A tan makes you look healthy.

False. Many people think that a tan looks healthier, but to dermatologists and doctors, it is a sign of skin damage.

When your skin colour changes from exposure to ultraviolet radiation (or UV rays), you are damaging your skin and this leads to premature aging as well as an increased risk of developing skin cancer. While a tan fades, the underlying damage does not.

Skin cancer is easily treated and can just be "cut out".

False. While skin cancer is often treatable, it can spread to other areas and even be fatal. Early detection is important.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Canada, accounting for more than one-third of all new cancers in Canada every year. Yet, it is also very preventable by following sun safety basics.

Niagara Region has a low incidence of melanoma.

False. The incidence of melanoma in Niagara is 24 per cent higher than the Ontario average.

Sunscreen offers complete protection against the sun's UV rays.

False. Sunscreen only offers partial protection from ultraviolet radiation and skin damage. The best protection is to limit time in the sun when the UV Index is three or higher, usually between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Seek shade / make shade, and use hats, sunglasses, and clothing that covers the skin.

A base tan provides protection from the sun.

False. All tans from exposure to ultraviolet radiation sources (i.e. sun or artificial tanning beds), including "base tans", are a sign of skin damage. They lead to premature skin aging and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Information adapted from the Ontario Sun Safety Working Group.


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