UV Safety Awareness Month
Summer is an important time to raise awareness around sun damage and the importance of skin safety and health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes the month of July as UV Safety Awareness Month to educate the public about ultraviolet (UV) rays and how they can impact skin and eye health.
The sun emits several types of radiation, but only two rays—UV-A and UV-B—reach the earth’s surface. Both types of rays pose risks to skin and health.UV-A rays are responsible for long-term skin damage, like wrinkles, and likely play a role in some skin cancers. UV-B rays are what cause sunburns by directly damaging skin cells and are thought to be the cause of most skin cancers.
The Impact of Sun Damage on Skin
Excessive sun and UV ray exposure can lead to damage of both the skin and eyes. Even one instance of a serious sunburn can increase your chance of developing skin cancer by up to 50%. If sun safety precautions are not taken, unprotected sun exposure can lead to:
- Skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma
- Damage of the eyes and vision problems
- Premature aging and premature skin damage
- Immune system suppression
Ways to Minimize Sun Exposure Risks
While sun exposure is inevitable, there are ways to minimize and prevent exposure that leads to moderate to severe skin damage. The best ways to minimize and prevent sun damage are:
- Staying in shaded and covered areas during high sun exposure times, particularly around midday
- Wearing protective sun clothing such as hats, sunglasses, and body-covering clothing
- Wearing and applying proper amounts of sunscreen
How to Have a Safe 4th of July
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:
- Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
- Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
- Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
- Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
- Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.