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First aid

28 October 2005

Sensible sun fun

Tanning and lying in the sun and soaking up the sun's rays used to be considered both pleasant and healthy. Now we know better.

Tanning and lying in the sun and soaking up the sun's rays used to be considered both pleasant and healthy ... before we became aware of the dangers of exposure to ultraviolet rays.

What are the sun's rays?
The sun produces both visible and invisible rays. The invisible rays are known as ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB). These types of rays are the so-called "problem rays", as they cause sun damage.

Protection from the sun
Sun protection should start in infancy and continue throughout life. Remember that sun protection in childhood is very important in preventing skin cancer later in life.

  • Planning outdoor activities early or late in the day to avoid peak sunlight hours between 10:00 and 16:00.
  • Dressing sensibly. Most clothing absorbs or reflects UV rays, but certain clothing (like white cotton clothes and wet clothes) does not offer much protection.
  • Generally, the tighter the weaving of the clothing, the more sun protection it will offer.
  • Wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Wearing sunglasses.
  • Using beach umbrellas and other kinds of shade, but remember that they do not provide full protection, as UV rays can still bounce off sand and water.

Using sunscreens:

  • Sunscreens should be applied about 20 minutes before going outdoors
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on all exposed skin, even on cloudy days
  • If swimming, use a water-resistant sunscreen
  • Reapply the sunscreen frequently (at least every one and a half hours, or even more often if sunny, swimming or heavily perspiring).

 

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