Sunny weather can make for very enjoyable days on your National Forests, but it only takes minutes to damage your skin. The sun is constantly bathing exposed skin and even your eyes with ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Even on cool and cloudy days, sun damage is possible if you don’t take precautions. As uncomfortable and unsightly as sunburn is, the damage isn’t limited to that. UV radiation damages the DNA in your skin. The effects are cumulative and can lead to skin cancer—the leading cause of cancer in the U.S. The good news is that it is easy to protect yourself.
The easiest way to keep the sun off your skin is to stay in the shade. Find a shelter, and umbrella or better yet, under a tree. There are plenty to be found on your National Forests. The best time of day to avoid is between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4 p.m.
When it’s possible, wear long pants, shirts with long sleeves, and a broad-brimmed hat. Not all fabrics are made equal. In fact, a typical T-shirt provides less than the minimum recommended sun protection of (sun protection factor) SPF 15. Wet clothes also provide far less sun protection.
There is some clothing that is certified by international standards and provides information about its SPF.
Sunscreen works by reflecting, scattering or absorbing sunlight. It is recommended that SPF 15 be used at a minimum. The higher the SPF, the stronger the protection.
Sunscreen should be applied to any exposed skin when you are outdoors. It needs to be reapplied every two hours and after sweating, swimming or toweling off.
Sunscreens also expire. Those without expiration dates has a shelf life of no more than three years—less if it is stored in high temperatures.
Protect your eyes
Your eyes aren’t immune to the effects of UV radiation. UV radiation can cause cataracts and other eye disease. Sunglasses should provide both UVA and UVB protection. Most sunglasses sold in the U.S. provide that protection.
For more information on protecting yourself from the sun and how to prevent skin cancer: visit the CDC Sun Safety Page
Remember: You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.