Both a high UV Index reading and a high Air Quality Health Index reading spell out health risk for us humans if we can’t find shelter. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause sunburn, with long-term exposure increasing the likelihood of skin aging faster than normal, eye cataracts, weakening of the immune system, and skin cancer.
Meanwhile, air pollution (or low-quality air, reported as higher numbers on the Index) can affect people who are over 65 years old, people with asthma, or people with diabetes or lung disease.
While staying indoors is pretty much the only way to avoid breathing in polluted air—aside from traveling to another location where the air is pure—there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself from the sun’s glare, with the UV Index reading is high (11+).
Here are just a few basic tips to keep in mind:
- Limit your time in the sun. UV rays are particularly strong during midday (11am-4pm) in the summer months (April through September).
- Check the UV Index for the day, before going outside.
- If you go outside, find shade as often as possible. A tree or a building will do the trick. Optionally, you can create your own shade—at least for your head, face and shoulders—by wearing a broad-rimmed hat or carrying a parasol.
- While you’re at it, why not wear wrap-around-sunglasses—especially if you have light-coloured eyes—and long-sleeved shirts.
- Know your skin type. Some people have skin that is a lot stronger than others. If you are fair and burn easily, be extra cautious about spending any kind of extended time in the sun. Even with a very low UV Index reading, you could burn in under an hour. And with a very high UV Index reading, you could burn in less than 10 minutes!
- When choose your sunscreen, go for the “broad spectrum” variety, which will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. You should always choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Remember to re-apply it every 2 hours, as well as directly after exercising or swimming.
- Remember that water, sand and snow reflect UV radiation!
- When the UV Index is forecasted to be 3 or higher in a day, Environment Canada will report it. So listen in regularly to be prepared and keep yourself healthy and safe!
UV knowledge and protective measures are just one way to keep yourself safe this summer! For more tips on staying safe during summer’s variety of severe weather types across Canada, visit our blog to read some of our other, recent posts!
Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for Frontier.io