As temperatures soar, protect yourself from sun's UV rays

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Air Force Safety Center joins the National Safety Council in highlighting June as National Safety Month.

According to the NSC, the goal for National Safety Month is to raise awareness of what it takes to stay "SafeForLife," and focus on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the roads and in our homes and communities.

"Safety awareness and mishap prevention in the Air Force is a job we must all accomplish every day, everywhere," said Bill Parsons, Air Force chief of occupational safety. "A large part of awareness is risk management. When we continue to improve our risk management abilities, we enhance awareness which, in turn, prevents mishaps in all situations."

"Safety is a habit you can live with," said Maj. Gen. Andrew M. Mueller, Air Force chief of safety. "Whether it's at work, at home or at play, we must make safe decisions for ourselves and those we care about."

Here are some tips on how to be safe under the sun:

When possible, avoid outdoor activities during midday, when the sun's rays are strongest.

Cover up with clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect exposed skin. When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors. Some clothing certified under international standards come with information on its ultraviolet protection factor.

Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids.

Seek shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it's best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent. Use these options to prevent sunburn, not to seek relief after it's happened.

Get a hat. Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears and neck are easy to use and give great protection. Baseball caps are popular, but don't protect the ears and neck. If you choose a cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.

Wear sunglasses. They protect the eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.

Apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection every time you go outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don't forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.

Take sunscreen with you to reapply during the day, especially after you swim or exercise. This applies to waterproof and water-resistant products as well.

Follow the directions on the package for using a sunscreen product on babies less than 6 months old. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your or your child's skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor. Your baby's best defense against sunburn is avoiding the sun or staying in the shade.

Turning pink? Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun's UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So, if your child's skin looks "a little pink" today, it may be burned tomorrow morning. To prevent further burning, get your child out of the sun.

Children still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them - and sometimes only slightly.

Kids often get sunburned when they're outdoors unprotected for longer than expected. Remember to plan ahead, and keep sun protection handy - in your car, bag, or child's backpack. This is also true for adults.

For more information contact the HAWC at  478-327-8480.